The Raiders have been on fire through the first three weeks of the season. They have had three challenging AFC matchups to start the year, with one more to come this week in Los Angeles.
Early-season MVP contender and September’s AFC Offensive Player of the Month QB Derek Carr and the Raiders are headed to SoFi Stadium to take on QB Justin Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Carr needs only 153 passing yards to remain the NFL’s leader in passing yards.
Let’s take a look at the Monday Night Football matchup.
Raider Nation heads to SoFi
The Raiders pride themselves on how far and wide Raider Nation stretches. Whether it’s San Francisco or New England, Raider Nation is there to make themselves known. This week at SoFi will be no exception. Ticket sales website Vivid Seats projects 74% of SoFi stadium will be Raiders fans. The Raiders played in LA from 1982-1994, and Raider Nation never left.
“I welcome Raider Nation to the field down there,” said head coach Jon Gruden on Thursday. “Perhaps Raider Nation could make a stand down in L.A. We look forward to seeing the fans. It will be a great game, as it always is.”
The fans have nicknamed the brand new SoFi stadium as the Raiders’ “second home.”
QB Derek Carr also mentioned their expectation to see Raider Nation in L.A. “It was always looked at as another home game, and that’s no disrespect, it’s a fact,” Carr said on Thursday. “The way you practice, the way you meet, it felt like a home game. I fully expect Raider Nation to take over the majority of the stadium again. They usually do.”
The Raiders have already seen what the fans can do at SoFi. After taking on the Rams in the preseason, second-year veteran Bryan Edwards is ready to see it again.
“I’m expecting a Raiders party. We played in that stadium in the preseason, and it was looking like a Raider party, so I expect them to come out in full effect,” Edwards said, and Raider Nation is ready to deliver.
If Raider fans live up to expectations on Monday Night, the team might reap the full benefits of a road “home” game. A crowd filled with Raiders might be the advantage this team needs to get to 4-0.
Las Vegas Injuries
Early in the season, Vegas has been plagued by a plethora of injuries. Superstar RB Josh Jacobs lead the pack of injuries, with game-changers like DT Solomon Thomas, CB Nate Hobbs, and CB Trayvon Mullen soon to follow.
After missing the last two games, Jacobs is questionable to make a return for Monday Night Football. Jacobs made it back to the field Wednesday after missing two full weeks of practice, and according to Kevin Bolinger, was “full speed.” The Raiders RB1 was listed as a limited participant for this week’s practices.
Jacobs was a game-changer in Week 1 versus Baltimore with 2 TDs and some much-improved blocking skills. Getting the former first-round pick back for Monday Night Football would be the power the Raiders run game needs to propel this team to a division win.
Safeties Dallin Leavitt (concussion) and Roderic Teamer (ankle) both returned to practice Wednesday as well after missing multiple weeks. The Raiders only have one person listed as questionable for Monday Night, and that is Josh Jacobs.
Gruden says Jacobs will be a game-time decision. If Jacobs is unable to go, Gruden said on Thursday he is “Not going to hesitate to put [Peyton Barber] in a primary role after what he did against the Dolphins.” Barber has been crucial to the Raiders run game. Look to see him getting plenty of carries on Monday if Jacobs is not ready to return to the field.
With the potential return of Jacobs, the and the likely return of Teamer and Leavitt, this is the healthiest the Raiders team has been so far this season. With an extra day to prepare and the return of some key players, Las Vegas looks ready to go for their first division matchup of the season. Justin Herbert and his powerful offense will not be an easy task, but Las Vegas is prepared to keep their streak going in their “second home” on Monday.
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