It might be the holiday season, but the Oakland Raiders are still focused on what they need to accomplish this Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.
This week's matchup against the Denver Broncos doesn't need to be overemphasized; this is a must win for the Silver and Black in order to keep their postseason hopes alive. Yes, they're relying on a handful of other factors to pan out, but none of those things matter unless they win.
The last time the Raiders and Broncos met Week 1, these were two very different teams, and now only one game separates them in the division.
Here are three matchups to keep an eye on in Week 17:
Daryl Worley vs. Courtland Sutton
Last week, Daryl Worley was moved all over the field, seeing time at safety, nickel, and cornerback. His versatility has gone a long way this season, given all the injuries to the Raiders' roster, and with Trayvon Mullen battling a concussion, it's possible Worley ends up guarding the Broncos' best receiver in Courtland Sutton.
In his sophomore campaign, Sutton has totaled 68 receptions, 1,060 yards, and six touchdowns and is the clear favorite target of rookie quarterback Drew Lock. Sutton has played with a few different quarterbacks in two years and has still managed to produce. Some of the catches he's made in 2019 have been awfully impressive, but Daryl Worley is more than capable of tracking the former first-round picks movements.
Crosby and Ferrell vs. Drew Lock
I want Drew Lock to feel the heat of "Salt-N-Pepa" this week.
The Denver Broncos new signal-caller has a certain confidence about him and used that to lead his team to a 3-1 record over his last four games, but I want to see Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell bring him back to reality.
Lock was a member of the Raiders' Senior Bowl roster in January and the coaching staff got to see what he's capable of firsthand. While many analysts assumed Lock would be a first-round pick, he dropped to the second round and was one of the last remaining picks in the green room to hear his name called at the 2019 NFL Draft. He has a big arm and isn't afraid to scramble outside the pocket, but he might be cautious considering the Raiders pass-rushing duo has been playing well as of late.
Over their last two games, Crosby and Ferrell have combined for two sacks and eight tackles. If the Raiders want to win this Sunday they'll have to rely on Crosby and Ferrell to make the rookie quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket.
Derek Carr vs. Von Miller
These two have gone head-to-head twice a year for six years now, and through all the competition they've been able to build a relationship off the field; however, when Sunday rolls around there will be no time for friendships, as Carr and the Raiders are hellbent on trying to do their part in order to make the playoffs.
Regardless of the fact it's been a down year for Miller, he still has seven sacks to his name and remains one of the most-feared pass rushers in the NFL. One of Miller's greatest strengths – and Carr knows it – is his ability to strip to ball out of the quarterback's hands. As of late, Carr has felt more inclined to scramble out of the pocket, and that could be dangerous when Miller is in pursuit. Carr's goal this week, as it is every week, will be to limit the turnovers, but especially because Miller has a knack of forcing them.