Key Matchups: Can the Raiders defensive line win the battle in the trenches?

Can you believe nearly a quarter of the season is almost over already?

Last week we watched the Oakland Raiders take on the Minnesota Vikings, and the Silver and Black struggled to get much of anything going, but that’s last week’s news – we’re moving forward.

In Week 4, the Raiders will take on the Colts in my home away from home, Indianapolis – a very underrated city in my opinion. It feels like we spend more time in Indy than any other city we travel to, and that’s probably because of the NFL Scouting Combine, which is held there every year, but that’s not the purpose of the team’s agenda this time around.

To come out victorious, the Silver and Black will need to win in all three phases of the game, so let’s take a look at three matchups that will be crucial in determining a winner Sunday.

Raiders defensive line vs. Colts offensive line

In each of the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the Raiders defensive line jumped out to a hot start, notching five sacks, nearly half of their season total from a year ago. Against the Vikings, however, they were unable to keep the good times rolling, and they’ll face an even tougher unit this week against the Colts.

To be successful as an offense you need to have a dominant offensive line – it all starts there – and the Colts have established one of the best in football. A relatively young group led by second-year stud Quenton Nelson has this team poised to compete with any defensive front in the league. So far, Jacoby Brissett has only been sacked six times, which ranks tied for 18th in the league.

Between the amount of youth on the Colts offensive line and the Raiders defensive line, it should make for an entertaining matchup, and one that the Raiders desperately need to win.

Josh Jacobs vs. Marlon Mack

Who’s excited to watch two top-10 NFL rushers go toe-to-toe this week?

Marlon Mack is currently the No. 3 rusher in the NFL with 299 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, while Josh Jacobs ranks No. 8 with 228 yards, but he’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Both of these teams have a tendency to pound the rock behind their dominant offensive lines, and it’s my estimation that whoever has the bigger game to these two will lead to a victory.

Marlon Mack played in Week 3, but he was nursing a calf injury; however, that didn’t stop him from toting the rock 16 times for 74 yards and one touchdown. Josh Jacobs was dealing with a hip injury all week, as well as a nasty cold, but both appear to be in good health now.

We’ll see which bell cow has the better day at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.

Derek Carr vs. Colts defense

I’m painting with a broad brush here, but I’m curious whether DC can take advantage of a depleted Colts defense and rebound from last week’s game against the Vikings.

Two of the Colts’ key defensive players – Malik Hooker and Darius Leonard – could potentially miss Sunday’s action, which would open several opportunities for Carr and the offense, especially Darren Waller. The dynamic tight end was Carr’s clear cut favorite target last week, as No. 4 completed 13 passes for 134 yards to Waller. With their starting linebacker and safety potentially out, I’d expect Carr and his new security blanket to take advantage. The Colts are currently allowing 244.3 passing yards per game and a completion percentage of 76. Hopefully No. 4 can stretch the field and find holes over the middle this week.

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