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Key Matchups: Rookie Justin Fields is about to become acquainted with the Raiders' ferocious pass rush


Can't look back, only forward.

With that being said, the Las Vegas Raiders looking forward consists of them turning their attention to the Chicago Bears. The Silver and Black suffered their first loss of the season and will try to rebound against a Bears team with an exceptional defense. The Bears defense had six tackles for loss, four pass deflections and sacked Jared Goff four times in their 24-14 victory over the Lions. The Raiders offense – led by Derek Carr, who also leads the league in passing yards (1,399) – will have to play above and beyond against the stingy Bears.

Here are three key matchups to watch out for going into the Raiders' third home game of the season.

The Raiders defense line vs. Justin Fields

On a short week, the defense line must now prepare to face rookie Justin Fields. The hard part about it is they're still unsure of what exactly they'll be getting from him

The Chicago Bears traded up in the 2021 Draft to select Fields, who had a stellar career at Ohio State, with the No. 11 overall pick. The talent and potential of the tough, dual threat 22-year-old is endless. The former Buckeye QB had a 67:9 touchdown to interception ratio in college and added 19 more touchdowns to his collegiate resume on the ground. Honestly, in my opinion, I felt there was a solid case for Fields to be the first quarterback taken off the board in the draft, even before Jacksonville Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence and New York Jets' Zach Wilson.

Fields – who's been sacked 12 times in three games – seems to still be adjusting to NFL speed. After a 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns where he only completed 30 percent of his passes, he bounced back in a big way the next week. The Bears' 2021 first-round pick threw for 209 yards in their 24-14 win over the Lions last Sunday. Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy officially named Fields the starting quarterback moving forward Wednesday morning.

"He's a young athletic kid. He has a good arm," said Maxx Crosby. "He's really talented. He was a first round pick for a reason."

Regardless of how talented Justin Fields is, he'll still have a hard day against a Raiders defensive line that's racked up nine sacks and is a top-five team in quarterback hits (31).

The Raiders offense vs. the first half

Numbers don't lie, and according to the numbers – the Raiders offense doesn't wake up until the second half.

In all four games this season, the Raiders have fallen behind at some point in the first half. They overcame two 14-0 deficits in their home game victories and almost came back down 21-0 in SoFi Stadium against the Chargers on Monday night. In the Raiders' four games, they've scored 31 points in the first half and 73 in the second half.

That's a 42-point differential. Imagine if the Raiders could score those 42 points out the gate in the first half?

"I think we needed to start a lot faster if I'm being honest," said Carr. "We started the season great, but we don't start games nearly good enough yet. And I think that's something we need to be better at."

Getting the offense in gear early out the gate has to be the Raiders' main priority going into their Week 5 matchup against Chicago. The Bears defense is the wrong team to fall asleep on, led by veteran linebackers Roquan Smith and former Raiders star Khalil Mack. And speaking of Khalil Mack...

Alex Leatherwood vs. Khalil Mack

It's insane to name all of the great linebackers Alex Leatherwood has had to block in the start of his rookie season.

Going from Patrick Queen to T.J. Watt to Joey Bosa and now, perhaps one of the best of the last decade in Khalil Mack. Raider Nation is familiar with Mack. Very familiar. He racked up over 300 total tackles and 40.5 sacks in his four seasons in the Silver and Black. But those days are long gone.

Leatherwood has been the guy at right tackle since he was drafted out of Alabama in April, and he's improving every week. While he had his difficulties containing Bosa, Leatherwood was responsible for a pancake block on the defensive lineman that equated to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow in the third quarter.

"He's a work in progress. He's competing," Head Coach Jon Gruden said about Leatherwood on Tuesday. "He does have some things to clean up, as we all do. But he's mentally tough, he's athletic. I think he'll continue to get better and better the more he plays, but there is going to be some growing pains. He's athletic, he's long armed. He's got some strength.

"We've just got to have more consistency from everybody, me included."

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