The Las Vegas Raiders, 0-1, have a good chance to get their first win of the season at home Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals in a game that kicks off at 1:25 p.m. PT. Let’s look at five keys to the game:
Get to Kyler Murray:
The Kansas City Chiefs terrorized Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray in a 44-21 Week 1 road win. Three Kansas City defenders had six pressures each and the Chiefs had three sacks. The Raiders’ need to replicate that type of production. Las Vegas didn’t have any sacks at the Chargers in Week 1. Yet, Raiders’ star pass-rusher Maxx Crosby did have constant pressure, though. New Raiders’ pass-rusher Chandler Jones had a quiet game against the Chargers. Perhaps playing the Cardinals, his former team, will ignite Jones. In this game, the Raiders need to get to Murray often and keep him from making plays with his legs.
Get Darren Waller going:
Week 1 was the Davante Adams show for the Raiders. He had 10 catches on 17 targets. Darren Waller had four catches for 79 on six targets. Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow had three catches for 21 yards on six targets. I wouldn’t get too worried about the disparity in targets. Each of these standouts will likely be a featured weapon depending on the game plan and the opponent. This week, might be a good time for Waller to get double-digit targets. Kansas City star tight end Travis Kelce had a monster game against Arizona last week with eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. If Waller can get himself a 100-yard receiving game, the Raiders should be in business.
Protect Derek Carr:
Yes, this already feels like a broken record. But it’s Las Vegas’ biggest issue. Car was sacked six times against the Chargers. The offensive line simply has to be better. We all know where the trouble pots are but the truth is the strength of the unit, left tackle Kolton Miller, needs to be better. Khalil Mack ate him alive last week. The good news is Arizona didn’t have any sacks last week. So maybe Carr will have more time this week.
Run the ball better:
Like the Waller point, every game plan is different and maybe the Raiders will try to run the ball more in this game. They had 64 yards on 13 carries against the Chargers. There needs to be a better balance and coach Josh McDaniels and his staff needs to make the ground game a bigger priority this week. The opportunity may be there. Arizona allowed the Chiefs to run for 128 yards last week.
Continue defensive trend:
Patrick Graham’s defense came alive in the second half at the Chargers and forced three three and outs and just seven points in the half after being gutted for 17 points in the first half. If that progress can be sustained for the whole game this week, the Raiders should easily beat the Cardinals.