Key Matchups To Watch

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Key Matchups: Can Josh Jacobs feast against Lions' run defense?

It’s hard to believe the Oakland Raiders have finally concluded their five-week stretch away from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. From Minneapolis to England, the Raiders have been all over the world, and as you can imagine it has been draining. Despite the fatigue, the Silver and Black were able to win two out of five games on the road, and against a pair of playoff teams from last year in the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts.

With the first half of the season nearly in the rearview mirror, the Raiders are returning home with a record of 3-4 and a trio of favorable home matchups ahead of them. This Sunday the Detroit Lions will come to town, who are coming off a close win over the New York Giants.

Let’s break down three matchups you should be watching this weekend:

Tahir Whitehead vs. T.J. Hockenson

This Sunday will be a special moment for Tahir Whitehead, who will face off against his former team for the first time in the regular season since leaving in free agency in 2018.

While it will most likely be emotional, he knows he has a job to do, and his job will consist of locking down the Lions’ first-round pick T.J. Hockenson. The former Iowa Hawkeye burst on the scene this season in Week 1 with a six-reception, 131-yard afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals, adding in a touchdown for good measure. Since then, he has yet to top 32 receiving yards, but the Raiders are giving up an average of 63 yards per game to the position. Without running back Kerryon Johnson, you can expect Matthew Stafford to throw ­a lot.

Daryl Worley vs. Kenny Golladay

The battle between CB1 and WR1 will be on full display at the Coliseum this Sunday. Daryl Worley has stepped up over the last two seasons as the Raiders top cornerback and Kenny Golladay is the undisputed top receiver in Detroit, as well as Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. Last week, Golladay went for a ­cool 123 yards and two touchdowns against a depleted New York Giants secondary. It’s possible the Lions try to line Golladay up against Trayvon Mullen, but in his first NFL start last week the rookie performed admirably, nearly picking off DeShaun Watson in the first half.

Josh Jacobs vs. Lions front seven

Halfway through his first NFL season and Josh Jacobs has a lot of people convinced that he’s a baller.

The first-round pick out of the University of Alabama has been one of the best stories in the NFL all season, and at this juncture he’s a clear-cut 0ffensive Rookie of the Year nominee. Jacobs is sixth in rushing yards with 620 and already has four touchdowns to his name. He’s averaging 88.6 yards per game, and his eyes should light up when he sees that the Lions are allowing 130.1 yards per game, the seventh worst in the league.

The Raiders offensive line is a little banged up with Rodney Hudson’s status for Sunday still up in the air, but Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, Gabe Jackson, and Trent Brown are a dominant force that should continue opening up running lanes for the rookie. If Jacobs is able to continue gashing big gains this Sunday the Raiders should control the clock and find themselves with another “W”.

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