The 6-9 Las Vegas Raiders host the 11-4 San Francisco 49ers, who have won eight straight games, Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PT.
Here are five keys to the game for the Raiders:
Get Jacobs going:
The Pittsburgh Steelers contained Raiders‘ star running back Josh Jacobs in Week 16. Jacobs had just 44 yards on 15 carries, It was his lowest rushing total in eight games. Jacobs, who is leading the NFL with 1,539 rushing yards, complained after the Steelers game that the Raiders didn’t run enough. So, he’ll be motivated to have a bigger impact his week. But it won’t be easy. San Francisco has the best run defense in the NFL this season as it is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. So, this will be quite a battle. Of course, with backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham making his first start, the Raiders will need to help him in the running game.
Same with Adams:
The Raiders’ best chance to win is when Jacobs and fellow Pro Bowl selection, wide receiver Davante Adams, have big games. Adams had just two catches for 15 yards against the Steelers. He has been brilliant for most of this season, but Adams has had just nine catches for 114 yards in the past two games and no touchdowns in the past three games. To upset San Francisco, the Raiders will need more from their best player and he will be a major focus for Stidham in his first start.
The Raiders’ offensive line will have its hands full, dealing with San Francisco edge rusher Nick Bosa. He is the leading candidate to be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and he leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks. He can wreck games and is the engine of an elite defense and he could make life miserable for Stidham.
The Las Vegas run defense has been susceptible for much of this season. The Steelers had 106 rushing yards in Week 16 and New England had 206 yards the previous week. Clearly, the 49ers will try to take advantage of their strong ground game that starts with the explosive Christian McCaffrey. He can do damage both on the ground and in the receiving game, So, he can’t be allowed to take over.
If the 49ers score early and take a lead this game could get out of hand, especially if the San Francisco defense pins its ears back and goes after the Raiders and Stidham. There is expected to be many, many 49ers fans in Allegiant Stadium for the game.
#49ers fans are projected to fill 60 percent of crowd in team's first visit to Raiders at Allegiant Stadium, per @VividSeats; Avg. tix $581— Cam Inman (@CamInman) December 28, 2022
They projected 82-percent 49ers fans in Mexico City vs. Cardinals (was more like 95 percent, and I expect > 60 percent in Vegas)
So, it could get quite loud if the 49ers take an early lead. So, for the Raiders, who are dealing with the burden of being 6-9 and facing the hottest team in the NFL, starting fast is critical in this game.