I don’t think there was a more fitting way for the Las Vegas Raiders to end their 2022 season other than how Saturday’s Week 18 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs unfolded. The Chiefs were literally and figuratively dancing on the field — the Raiders’ home field — en route to clowning Las Vegas 31-13 and there wasn’t much the Silver and Black could do about it.
After having playoff aspirations all offseason, the Raiders fall to 6-11 which calls for a contentious final winners and losers column for the campaign.
LOSER: Mark Davis
I want to start at the top of the organization because there was some news that broke last weekend that just didn’t sit right with me. OutKick’s Jason Cole reported that team owner Mark Davis is “embarrassed” that opposing fans are packing Allegiant Stadium. This was probably the most evident over the last two weeks as the stands were filled with red jerseys and fans supporting the 49ers and Chiefs.
I’m not sure what Davis was expecting, but buddy, everybody saw this coming...
Las Vegas is like Los Angeles — which has also struggled to pack the stands with home fans — where there are a billion other things to do than go to a football game. So, when the team sucks, what do you think those people are going to do? Probably one of the billion other things to do.
Also, when ticket prices are outrageous and selling like crazy on the secondary market, what do you expect season ticket holders to do? Sit there, eat money and consume your crappy product? Hell no, sell those bad boys and make some of your money back from the ridiculously priced PSLs.
Not to mention this comes with the territory of putting a team in one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. If you’re an opposing fan and looking to go to one away game, what are you going to pick? Probably the one that’s played in the city nicknamed ‘Adult Disneyland’.
Again, Davis should have seen this coming, and instead of worrying about who’s in the stands, how about you work on improving your 79-115 record in 12 years as an owner? Raider Nation is tired of losing and doing exactly what it should be doing, standing up to an owner who can’t seem to get it right and refusing to consume a terrible product.
Winner: Tre’von Moehrig
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the actual game on Saturday.
It’s been well-documented that Tre’von Moehrig has been struggling this season and desperately needed a bounce-back performance to build some confidence heading into the offseason. That’s exactly what he did against the Chiefs by allowing just two completions on three targets for 25 yards while simultaneously picking up his fifth pass breakup of the year.
Moehrig ended up earning a 72.4 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus which was his highest single-game mark of the year. He also managed to pick up a couple of tackles and a respectable 69.0 mark as a run defender without missing any tackles to end the year on a high note.
Again, this is not the sophomore campaign he was hoping for, but he did manage to end the year on a strong performance and build some momentum leading into what will be a pivotal year three.
LOSER: Bilal Nichols
Like Moehrig, Bilal Nichols was in need of a good outing to salvage what’s been a tough season. However, the defensive tackle didn’t have the momentum-building performance that he needed.
Nichols has struggled as a run defender all year and this past week might of been his worst game in that regard, logging a season-low 34.0 PFF run defense grade while the Chiefs averaged six yards per carry, 1.3 yards better than their season average. Obviously, the latter figure isn’t all his fault, but he wasn’t doing much to help keep Kansas City’s offense in check as he also only picked up one pressure on the afternoon.
The free-agent signing finished the regular season tied for 97th among defensive tackles with a 48.9 run defense grade and with one less pressure than he had the year before despite rushing the passer nearly 100 more times. Clearly, Las Vegas didn’t get what they bargained for and the position will be a major need for the second offseason in a row.
WINNER: Jermaine Eluemunor
After only scoring 13 points, there weren’t many notable performances from the Raiders’ offense this weekend, but Jermaine Eluemunor led the team with a 79.8 offensive grade from PFF. His pass protection was once again top-notch as he pitched a shutout, allowing zero pressures for the third time this season.
But Eluemunor deserves praise for more than just this past Saturday. He went from being a backup guard and emergency tackle in training camp to becoming one of the better tackles in pass protection in the league. Among qualifying players at the position (minimum 417 pass-blocking snaps), he finished the year tied for 16th at the position with a 97.4 efficiency rating in pass pro.
After playing on a veteran’s minimum contract in 2022, he’s due for a big raise as an impending free agent this offseason.
LOSER: Alex Bars
On the other side of the spectrum is Alex Bars. Granted, he was going up against one of the best interior pass-rushers in the league in Chris Jones, but the Raiders gave up 16 pressures in total and Bars accounted for half of them and two of the team’s three sacks allowed. He was clearly the weak spot on the offensive line and has been all season.
While recording the fewest snaps, Bars allowed the second-most pressures (38) and recorded the lowest PFF run-blocking grade by nearly 20 points of the Raiders’ starting five linemen. Unlike what Eluemunor did, the four-year veteran made it clear that the Raiders desperately need to get some help on the interior of their offensive line this offseason.
LOSER: Luke Masterson
Luke Masterson did improve from his two previous outings but still struggled against the Chiefs, earning a sub-par 56.8 mark from PFF. Coverage was his biggest issue as he gave up two catches on two targets for 43 yards.
While the rookie will still have a chance to compete for a starting job next season, it does feel like he squandered an opportunity to show the front office that he is the guy and can take over the reins moving forward. Instead, the team will look to bring in more competition over the next few months.