Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride took some time to write up the players on the Raiders he thinks will be X-Factors on offense and defense when they come to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday. Here’s what he had to say.
When I think of an X-Factor, I usually try to think outside the box. In football, we could always say the quarterback, but that’s too easy. When I think of an X-factor I think of a player who, should they step up, could unexpectedly make a considerable difference in the outcome of the game. With that in mind, here are my X-factors on each side of the ball for the Raiders.
Offense: JJ Nelson
The Raiders’ top two receivers are clear cut. It’s Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller. Perhaps not in that order. But they’re not getting it done alone. There has been little in the way of a legitimate third receiving option on this team and it’s hurting them. Nelson was hurt the first couple weeks of the season and came back last week to score the only touchdown the Raiders had that actually mattered. Nelson is all about speed. When Antonio Brown was absent throughout Raiders camp, it was usually Nelson who was asked to step in and try to take the top off the defense. Get him going and it would be huge for the Raiders’ offense. I mean, so long as he isn’t the ONLY thing that is working.
Defense: Gareon Conley
By the end of last season Conley was looking like the Raiders best defender. Through three games this season, he hasn’t looked nearly that impressive. Even in the Raiders season opening win over the Broncos, Conley wasn’t up to snuff. And the past two weeks against the Chiefs and Vikings he’s been roasted far too often. He has it in him to be a lockdown corner. We’ve seen it. This defense has been pretty bad of late and it can’t afford to have arguably their best player not playing up to the level at which we know he’s capable. By that same token, Conley getting back on track would help the defense across the board. Namely it would help the pass rush because it would force Jacoby Brissett to stay in the pocket longer searching for an open receiver. Last week the Raiders barely laid a finger on Kirk Cousins and paid dearly for it. He was just finding his targets too quickly and too often for them to get to him. And they don’t have any elite pass rushers who can make up for a faulty secondary.