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Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals cannot afford an 0-2 begin

These groups play in stacked divisions and must preserve tempo
Illustration: Getty Photographs

The time period “should win” is without doubt one of the extra overused phrases within the sports activities world. It’s onerous to wrap your thoughts round a sport in Week 2 of the NFL season being categorized as such, however with that stated, the Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders, who meet Sunday in Sin Metropolis, discover themselves in a troublesome scenario this week. An 0-2 begin for both staff of their respective divisions may sign onerous occasions on the horizon. And it’ll be on the horizon for one among them — until we now have a tie.

We’ve all heard the stat about groups beginning 0-2 not often making the playoffs. Less than 13 percent of these groups have certified for the postseason since 1990. Whereas that could be extra skewed towards the outdated playoff format (12 groups versus 14), it might be related within the case of the Raiders and Cardinals.

Even with a 17-game schedule, falling to 0-2 in arguably the 2 hardest divisions within the league can be devastating. Las Vegas can unwell afford to drop one other sport to maintain tempo in a loaded AFC West with Kansas Metropolis and Los Angeles, who handed the Raiders a 24-19 loss final week, already at 1-0, and Denver — regardless of a puzzling loss to Seattle — anticipated to proper the ship and be within the thick of the playoff hunt this season. KC and the Chargers will go head-to-head this week, giving Las Vegas an opportunity to realize floor with a victory.

Just one NFC West staff was victorious final week, and it wasn’t the Cardinals, who acquired drubbed by the aforementioned Chiefs. If all goes based on plan, the Rams and 49ers ought to be capable of climb to 1-1. Though, as we noticed in Week 1, plans are topic to alter.

Arizona is at an excessive drawback within the quarterback matchup of Kyler Murray towards Derek Carr. That’s not a knock on Murray’s means, however Kyler is lacking his best-receiving possibility, DeAndre Hopkins. This shall be sport two of Hopkins’ six-game suspension for testing optimistic for PEDs. Murray handed for 2 TDs towards the Chiefs in Week 1 — albeit not till the fourth quarter — however failed to achieve 200 yards by means of the air.

Hopkins opens the field up for Arizona’s offense, and without him, it could be pulling up the rear in their division until he returns. The newly-acquired Marquise “Hollywood” Brown wasn’t spectacular, although he did have a TD reception. But four catches for 43 yards is barely worthy of No. 2 receiver status. He’ll need to pick up the production while Hopkins is out.

Carr had his new favorite Raider target — and former Fresno State teammate — Davante Adams and looked to him early and often. Adams was targeted 17 times by Carr, catching 10 balls for 141 yards and a score. That was one hell of a debut in silver and black for Adams but just a tad bit aggressive on Carr’s part. Carr pointed out his and the team’s aggressiveness following the game.

“We did too many good things, and I was way too aggressive,” Carr stated postgame. “We got here in with an aggressive mindset, particularly with all of the weapons that we now have. That’s on me, the choices to be too aggressive in sure moments.”

It’s one factor to be aggressive or come right into a sport with that mentality. That may be nice and normally what coaches ask of their gamers. However being that aggressive to at least one space of the sector could be an excessive amount of and turns into predictable. Carr threw the ball Darren Waller’s means simply six occasions, and he was the staff’s second-leading receiver towards the Chargers in Week 1. Waller — who just lately agreed to a three-year, $51 million extension — has been a star in Las Vegas the previous couple of years, so you’ll be able to’t neglect about him now that Carr’s faculty buddy, Adams, is on the town.

In opposition to the Cardinals this week, the Raiders ought to get again on observe with Carr spreading the ball round a bit of extra. Adams doesn’t want practically 20 targets for this staff to achieve success. They’ve acquired different choices in Las Vegas. Hunter Renfrow had six targets and solely three catches for 21 yards. Josh Jacobs ran the ball properly, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, however he solely acquired 10 rush makes an attempt.

As soon as the Raiders determine methods to stability their offensive assault, they’ll be alright. (Or all the things may go to shit, ‘cuz, Josh McDaniels). But it surely wants to start out this week towards Arizona to keep away from falling again two video games of first place within the AFC West. Arizona, then again, is almost doomed. It appears like they’re on the trail to changing into one among final yr’s playoff groups that miss out in 2022. Their protection was shredded by Patrick Mahomes, and the offense did little or no to assist them out.

Raider Nation ought to be hyped for this matchup at dwelling, serving to their staff keep away from an 0-2 gap and take this sport towards the Cardinals. 

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