Jorge Guzman says:
"Get Darren Waller involved more."
Things take time and patience, and that's the case with Darren Waller going into Saturday.
The superstar tight end returned from a knee injury and the Reserve/COVID-19 list to suit up in the season finale. While Waller did make a few plays, the effect he had on the game was less than what a few people expected from him coming up. Carr and Waller connected on two catches out of nine targets for 22 yards. It was Waller's lowest receiving yard total in a game this season.
"You want to go out there and make all these things happen, but at the same time it's like, 'I don't have to go out there and do it by myself,'" Waller said of his return. "And just realizing as long as I do my role, I have value – in whether I'm touching the ball or I'm not touching the ball – and just knowing I contribute a lot to what this team does."
But give the man a break, he missed five and a half straight games. And on top of that, he was covered by All-Pro safety Derwin James for the large majority of the game. With another week to continue to get his conditioning up and rust off, it's inevitable for him to return to the player he was before his injury he sustained in Dallas.
"It was tough for me to come back in and be like, 'OK, let's take things as they are, let's move our way back in the game and get comfortable again,'" Waller said. "But at the same time there had to be a sense of urgency. So there was a little bit of difficulty preparing for that mentally."
Chris Laasch says:
"At the end of the game, Joe Burrow must be able to list exactly what Maxx and Yannick had for lunch based on their breath in his face all game."
I bet a lot of quarterbacks have haunting memories of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue this season. The two have statistically been one of the best edge rushing duos in the league.
The two captains of the Raiders defense have wreaked havoc, combining for 18 sacks and 53 quarterback hits this season. Crosby was selected to his first Pro Bowl and led the league in quarterback pressures as well, according to PFF. The play of these two linemen will be crucial in the upcoming playoff game – Joe Burrow was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL this season. Additionally, the Bengals are 5-6 in games this season in which Burrow was sacked at least three times.
"Every quarterback, you go into the game trying to find ways you can affect them. He's pretty steady now," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about Burrow on Wednesday. "He doesn't get affected too often. He's highly, highly competitive so he'll extend plays. He has a great feel for the rush and keeps his eyes down field. ... He's just extremely talented, extremely poised and has tremendous faith in his skill players."
The Bengals quarterback's lowest amount of passing yards he's had in a game this season was 148 yards – which was against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11.
Dustin Bright says:
"We need TD's in the red zone, can't settle for FG's."
Field goals are great, scoring points is great but scoring touchdowns is the best.
While the Raiders haven't had problems putting points on the board, they've had difficulty maximizing on results. While the Silver and Black have averaged 22 points per game this season, they've only scored touchdowns on 51.7 percent of their trips in the red zone – ranked 26th in the NFL.
Daniel Carlson has been amazing this year, scoring 150 points and knocking down 93 percent of his field goal attempts. However, if the Raiders want to secure their first playoff victory since 2002, Carlson needs to be kicking more extra points than field goals – if you get my drift.
View team photographer Matt Aguirre's best photos from Allegiant Stadium's catwalk during the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 18 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers.