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Raiders vs. Steelers: Area of Concern

Weather is likely to play quite the factor in Pittsburgh

NFL: DEC 11 Ravens at Steelers
Weather reports slate the temperatures at Acrisure Stadium to be cold and windy with a high of 13 degrees during Saturday’s game between the visiting Las Vegas Raiders and host Pittsburgh Steelers.
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s no getting around it. When the temperatures dip, so does the effectiveness of Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. We’re going to see if Carr can conquer his biggest nemesis Saturday night in Pittsburgh: Mother Nature — specifically — the bitter cold.

Las Vegas has a lot of success running the ball this season, but it’ll have to throw at some point against the host Pittsburgh Steelers. And that’ll come down to Carr who is 0-6 in his career when the temperature is 37 degrees or colder — which Pittsburgh will be come kickoff.

The National Weather Service’s forecast calls for a mostly cloudy and cold Saturday with a high of 13 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of seven degrees at night. Those frigid temps will be accompanied with wind that can top out at 24 to 29 miles per hour and decrease to 16 to 21.

Not ideal when it comes to not only Carr’s stone cold performances in this type of environment, but every player on the field at Acrisure Stadium. One assumes the Steelers have the advantage practicing and getting used to cold-weather environments because they have no choice.

Fortunately for the Raiders, head coach Josh McDaniels has plenty of experience in these type of contests from his days as New England Patriots offensive coordinator and all those East Coast late-in-the-year type games.

“I mean look, we have no control over the weather. We’re not playing the weather, we’re playing the Steelers,” McDaniels noted. “Our preparation is going to be solely focused on them. If something in the weather would dictate — 50 mile per hour winds, or something like that — obviously you need to be ready to adjust accordingly.”

NFL: NOV 06 Raiders at Jaguars
Perhaps longtime friend and current top receiver Davante Adams (17) can impart knowledge of cold-weather acclimation to quarterback Derek Carr (4) and the Las Vegas Raiders for this Saturday’s game in Pittsburgh.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While McDaniels is accustomed to the upcoming environment in Pittsburgh, there’s only so much Las Vegas can do to simulate the bitter cold they’ll be flying into.

“I mean look, we can’t simulate zero degrees here, although I asked to see how cold we could get the indoor,” McDaniels said. “They said it might shut the building down if we got it down to zero or 10 degrees. So, look it is what it is. I’ve had the reverse, where you’re practicing in cold weather, and then you go south or west and you have to deal with temperatures you haven’t practiced in in three months or been in in two months. There’s nothing we can control. I think really it’s up here mentally.

“You just have to understand that it is what it is, we don’t play in those conditions or practice in them regularly, so we’re just going to have to go and get acclimated quickly to it. Football is football.”

The Raiders top wide receiver Davante Adams, like McDaniels, is used to playing frigid temps from his days as the Green Bay Packers elite pass catcher. Perhaps he can help get Carr dialed in and capture his first career win in temperatures of 37 degrees or below. And Las Vegas is likely to lean heavy on Jacobs, much like Pittsburgh likely shoulder tailback Najee Harris with much of the workload.

That’s all fine and dandy and perhaps a red hot mentality is what the Silver & Black need in the final three games of the season. Specifically, Saturday night’s tilt with the Steelers is a litmus test for the Raiders’ slim playoff aspirations.

Yes, the trip to Pittsburgh is the final road trip of the year and the team’s last two games will be at home inside climate-controlled Allegiant Stadium. But assuming the Raiders can win out (beating the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs in the final three games) and a whole lot of other dominoes fall in their favor to get a playoff berth, chances are the postseason road will be cold-weather heavy.

And cold-weather Raiders football — the last six outings — is replete with ice-cold performances than burning success.