The 2-0 Raiders will be leaving the desert to go face New England Sunday.
This game will be a challenge for the undefeated Raiders, as they are facing legendary coach Bill Belichick, who owns the most Super Bowl wins of any head coach in NFL history.
Belichick and the Patriots have a storied history with the Silver and Black, including the infamous "Tuck Rule" game in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game. A lot has changed since that game, such as Belichick's right hand man Tom Brady leaving the Pats for Tampa Bay.
Here are a few key matchups going into the game.
Cam Newton vs. Paul Guenther
Around this time six months ago, Cam Newton was working out in his home gym blasting 'Grateful' by Hezekiah Walker after being released by the Carolina Panthers.
"All I know is work. They gave up on me," said Cam Newton as he was working out. The Panthers decided to move on from the 2015 NFL MVP who they drafted first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Silver and Black defeated Newton's former team Week 1 and now will face him as he's traveled North to play for the six-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
The Cam Newton the Raiders will be playing Sunday is not the same smiling, dancing Cam Newton that we became accustomed to seeing in Charlotte.
This is revenge tour Cam Newton.
Cam Newton's play the first two weeks of the season has been stellar, letting the league know that he is still the same dual-threat quarterback he was before being sidelined the past two seasons with various injuries. Actually, he might even be better.
Cam Newton is coming off a loss to the Seattle Seahawks 35-30 where he was stopped on the goal line as time expired. Despite the loss, Newton put up big numbers in his new offense throwing for 397 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 47 yards and two more scores.
The Raiders' young, talented defense has had it's up-and-downs in their first two wins, showing difficulty stopping the run and rushing the passer. There aren't many quarterbacks in the NFL better at making plays with their feet than Cam Newton, and if the Raiders defense gives him multiple chances to do so, it's going to be a huge problem.
A lot of pressure will be on defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to come up with a solid gameplay for his defense to limit Newton's abilities to make plays on the run and force him to make difficult throws and beat them with his arm.
Newton and Guenther last faced each other in 2014 when Guenther was the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. The game ended in a 37-37 tie with the former Auburn Tiger throwing for 284 yards two touchdowns and an interception, and rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards vs. Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty
In the first two games of the season, Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards have shown glimpses of what could be a formidable wideout tandem for the Silver and Black for years to come.
Ruggs has used his speed to take the top off of defenses, leading the team in receiving yards against the Panthers and forcing the Saints secondary to make a couple key pass interferences that guided the Raiders to their first with in Allegiant Stadium.
After having a slow game against the Panthers, Edwards came alive against the Saints using his violent running style and strength to create separation. This resulted in Edwards catching two passes for 42 yards, second most on the team in receiving yards behind Darren Waller.
The Raiders' 2020 draft mates will face their biggest challenge to date against a stingy New England secondary led by Stephen Gilmore and Jason McCourty.
Gilmore has established himself as a lockdown cornerback in the league as a first-team All Pro selection the previous three seasons. He is also the reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the first cornerback to win the award since Raiders legend Charles Woodson in 2009. He recorded his first interception of the year in the Patriots' Week 1 victory vs. the Dolphins.
Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty will be holding down the other cornerback spot aided by his Pro-Bowl twin brother Devin McCourty at free safety.
Quarterback Derek Carr is very familiar with Gilmore and McCourty and is excited to see what his rookie receivers can do in their matchups.
"I've played against those guys in my career before and they're outstanding players," said Carr. "It's going to be a real challenge for us. They are going to come out here and try to choke our young guys out. What a challenge it will be for those guys, and like I said in the production meeting this last game, I was excited to see our young bucks step up when [Marshon] Lattimore was on them, [Malcolm] Jenkins was on them. I was excited to see what would come out of it and I think Bryan [Edwards] had a great couple moments where he really stepped up and showed what he's capable of."
Darren Waller vs. Devin McCourty
Monday night, Darren Waller was given the opportunity on primetime television to show he is a matchup nightmare.
The Saints' defensive game plan included putting a linebacker, a safety and a cornerback on Darren Waller during the entirety of the game. Their plan was ineffective.
Waller exploded for 12 receptions and 106 yards with a touchdown. He was one reception away from tying his career-high receptions in a game and his performance has made him a marked man against Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
"Yeah, he's a big challenge," said Bill Belichick. "Really impressed with everything (Waller) does. He's very competitive, got great size, got great quickness for his size, catches the ball very well. He can run all the routes. Really is a versatile player, talented that shows good toughness and is very competitive guy. He'll definitely be a problem for us. There's not one thing you can take away from him. He does a lot things, does a lot of things well."
I doubt that Belichick will assign his linebackers to cover Waller for an extended period of time, which is why I'm convinced Waller will have a good matchup against Pro Bowl free safety Devin McCourty. McCourty recorded a pick-six on Sunday in the Patriots' loss against the Seahawks. This matchup will be most prevalent especially in the red zone, as Waller found the end zone three times a season ago. Carr realizes that the Patriots coaching staff will definitely have something up their sleeves to try and contain Waller from having another dominant performance.
"We definitely have to be ready anytime we play anyone from the New England scheme and that organization," Carr explained. "That's what they do best, they try to take away your best players. That's every week we go out there, that's what people are trying to do to Waller. We've had some good practice on it, if I'm being honest. Guys doubling and different stuff with him. Our other guys, it'll be a great opportunity to see who steps up. Like we always talk about, we're not a selfish team. If they want to take something away, then other guys will step up. If they want to take that away, then other guys will step up. We're into team football and not fantasy stats."
Coming off their Monday Night Football win against the Saints, the Raiders return to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for a walkthrough as they begin preparing for the New England Patriots in Week 3.