Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve with the Silver and Black?
Family gatherings are cool, but I know that all of you need an out so you don’t have to spend two-and-a-half hours talking to that nice, but awkward cousin, so tell everyone you have plans starting at 5:15 pm when the Oakland Raiders get to work on Monday Night Football.
There’s nothing better than primetime, especially when a division rival comes to town; here are six things you need to watch for once the game gets underway.
1. Does the streak continue?
I was but a young lad, filled with hope, optimism and the dreams of a better tomorrow the last time Derek Carr threw an interception sometime in early 2012….
I kid, I kid, but in all seriousness, it’s been nine full games since DC threw a pick, and you bet I’ll be watching to see if he can keep up that diligence with the football against a tough, Broncos secondary.
Luckily for the Silver and Black, Chris Harris Jr. is on the Reserve/Injured List, but even without him roaming the secondary, the Denver defense is not one to take lightly.
The odds are that Derek will throw an interception again at some point in his career, let’s just hope it isn’t on Monday night.
2. Does Jordy keep eating?
The Jordy Nelson we’ve seen over the past three weeks is the version of the veteran receiver we expected to see when he signed with the team in March, and a big reason for that production is that No. 82 is healthy.
Not only has the veteran’s return to the outside provided some much-needed stability to the Raiders offensive game plan, but his leadership has also been paramount for the young wideouts on the roster.
And while Nelson hasn’t found the end zone since Week 5, over the past three weeks, he’s become– along with tight end Jared Cook – a go-to target for Carr.
Like I said earlier, the Broncos secondary is not to be trifled with, and while statistically they’re having a bit of a down year, make no mistake about it, they have the personnel to be disruptive – hopefully Jordy Nelson can get the upper hand on primetime though.
3. Since we’re talking about disruptive players….
If the Raiders want to enjoy an extra cheery Christmas Eve, they’re going to have to find a way to neutralize Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Combined, the destructive duo has 26.5 sacks, and I think it’s fair to say that either one of them has the ability to take over a game at any point.
The Raiders offensive line – the past few weeks especially – has dealt with a lot of turnover as far as the personnel is concerned, so whoever gets the call against the Broncos is going to have their hands full for a full 60 minutes.
Derek Carr being under constant pressure has been a major storyline we’ve followed in 2018, but when No. 4 has had time to work, he’s shown week after week that he’s a top-tier quarterback in the NFL.
Keeping Carr upright is paramount each week, but going against dudes like Miller and Chubb this week, it’ll be even more important than usual.
4. Is KO a go?
We haven’t seen the powerful guard – and Pro Bowl alternate – since Week 13, but after being a full participant in both Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions, it sure seems like there’s a chance that Kelechi Osemele gets back in the trenches in the Raiders final home game of 2018.
If Osemele were able to get back to work, his presence immediately makes the Raiders o-line better, and with Gabe Jackson done for the rest of the year, the Silver and Black can use all the help they can get.
Especially with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb preparing to descend upon the OACC, the return of the Pro Bowl guard would go a long way in helping the Raiders get the offense moving.
Take a look at photos from Friday's practice as the Raiders get ready to take on the Broncos in Week 16.
5. The Pro Bowl snubs
I’ll say it; it’s a travesty that neither Jared Cook nor Rodney Hudson were named to the 2019 Pro Bowl roster.
Let’s start with Cook first; the man is having a career year in Silver and Black, and has managed to eat each week with defenses knowing full well that he’s Derek Carr’s No. 1 guy.
Also, I know that Eric Ebron has more touchdowns than Cook in 2018, but Jared has more receptions and nearly 200 more receiving yards, and that has to count for something.
And as far as Rodney Hudson is concerned, given the lack of consistency that the man in the middle has had around him all year, you’d be hard pressed to find a better center in the league.
I know that both guys will play down the fact that neither of them made the NFL’s All-Star game, but make sure to watch both Cook and Hudson and see if they show the NFL that they might have made a mistake in leaving them on the outside looking in.
6. The atmosphere
Monday night is going to be bonkers, we all know that.
Christmas Eve, at the Coliseum, in the 2018 home finale; oh boy, it’s going to be a celebration.
There’s nothing better than primetime football – the eyes of the NFL world are on you, and it just feels a little different when you’re the only game on TV.
The 2018 home finale is going to be an unforgettable one, so make sure you’re in your seats early; I think you’re going to want to see who’s lighting the torch…