It’s been a roller coaster of a season for the Las Vegas Raiders. Yet with time running out on the clock, Derek Carr put his team into the NFL playoffs with a clutch performance.
Can Carr carry his team to Super Bowl LVI? NFL betting odds have the Raiders priced at +5000 to win the Super Bowl. Let’s look at how far the Raiders can go in the playoffs.
Raiders at Bengals (-5.5)
- Date: Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022
- Time: 4:30 PM EST
- Venue: Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
The Derek Carr Factor
Derek Carr is above his career average for completed passes with a 68.4 percent completion rate in his eighth season with the Raiders. His 4,804 passing yards in the 2021 season is also a career-best.
Carr also led his team on six game-winning drives in 2021, the second-highest single-season mark of his career. (He had seven in 2016.) But this season, Carr accomplished this without key targets like TE Darren Waller for long stretches of the season, thanks to a rash of injuries.
Carr has had a good year, but he’s thrown five interceptions and only four touchdowns in his past five games. To make a deep playoff run, he’ll need to have fewer turnovers and finish drives in the end zone.
Can the Raiders Beat the Bengals?
When the Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals met in Week 11, Las Vegas lost 32-13 at home. Carr went 19-for-27 with 215 yards passing, one TD and an INT. Darren Waller caught seven of those passes for 116 yards.
Josh Jacobs had 37 rushing yards on nine carries.
There is a good chance Darren Waller will be back in the lineup on Saturday. During his absence, WR Hunter Renfrow has emerged as a favorite target for Derek Carr. Carr targeted Renfrow 128 times this season.
If the Raiders can produce more running yards and keep the Bengals’ defense off-balance, they have a chance to win. Cincinnati allows the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game, so that could be a challenge, as Las Vegas will need to keep the Bengals’ offense off the field and chew up some clock with its running game. This will open up play-action passes and draws to keep pressure off of Carr.
The defense led by Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue ranks 13th against the pass (222.9 passing yards allowed per game). If the Raiders can pressure Joe Burrow and force a mistake or two, I think they can win this game.
How Do the Raiders Stack Up Against the AFC?
If the Raiders get past the Bengals, they will probably have to play the Kansas City Chiefs or the Buffalo Bills. The Raiders did not play the Bills this season, but the Bills are a complete team. Their defense ranks first in points allowed (17) and third in points scored (28.4).
However, the Raiders played the Chiefs twice this season.
In Week 14, the Chiefs demolished the Raiders, 48-9. In that game, the Chiefs held Carr to 263 yards and one TD while stuffing the Raiders rushing attack. Las Vegas RB Josh Jacobs ran for only 24 yards.
The script was the same in Week 10 when the Chiefs won 41-14. Jacobs and the Raiders running game gained only 50 yards, while Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns.
Can Carr Lead Las Vegas to Super Bowl LVI?
Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders are a resilient team, but I don’t see them making a deep run in the AFC, given the level of competition.
What do you think the Raiders’ chances are of reaching Super Bowl LVI?
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