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Raiders-Steelers Week 16: 5 things to watch

Keys to a Las Vegas Raiders’ victory

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Waller
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders will play a Christmas eve prime-time game at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night. Here are five keys to the game for the Raiders, who hope to increase their slight playoff hopes:

Stop the run:

In Week 15, New England had success running the ball against the Raiders even though Damien Harris was out injured. The Patriots had 206 rushing yards (including Jakobi Meyers’ awful lateral play at the end) against the Raiders. Frankly, Las Vegas was lucky the Patriots didn’t run even more. For some reason, they allowed quarterback Mac Jones to throw the ball 31 times even though he wasn’t having success. Expect the Steelers to try to establish the run. Pittsburgh has a solid running game led by Najee Harris (who has 790 rushing yards this season), so the Raiders will need to tighten up.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Hunter Renfrow
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Get Waller, Renfrow going:

Both star tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow returned in Week 15 after long stays on the injured reserve. They were both eased into the offense. Waller had three catches for 48 yards, but one of them was a big play on the game-tying touchdown drive in the final minute. Renfrow had one catch for 14 yards, but it came on third and 13. I’d expect both Waller and Renfrow to have bigger roles this week as they have shaken off the rust. It could be very helpful for Las Vegas.

Bundle up:

The Raiders’ last road game of the (regular) season is expected to be a cold one. It’s going to be very-Christmas like in the Steel City. The forecast calls for it to be around 10 degrees Saturday night and cloudy. However, with the wind chill, it is expected to feel like 4-below zero. We all know Derek Carr hasn’t been great cold games. We’ll see how this one goes, but it’s going to be brisk to say the least.

Slow the penalties:

The Raiders were penalized 13 times for 90 yards against the Patriots and it really hurt the offense in the second half as the Patriots scored 21 unanswered points before the last-minute fireworks. Las Vegas must play a cleaner game on the road.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

No turnovers:

The Raiders have become sloppy on offense when it comes to turnovers. For the first half of the season, Las Vegas was the league leader in giveaways. But Carr has thrown six interceptions in the past four games (two were returned for touchdowns). Pittsburgh can play pretty timely defense. So, the Raiders must be careful with the ball.