Jon Gruden vs. Tom Brady
Jon Gruden will have the opportunity to once again game-plan against his old nemesis Tom Brady. To make the situation even crazier, Brady is now the quarterback for the team Gruden won his lone Super Bowl with.
Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl wins to show for it. Brady and Gruden's infamous rivalry started in the 2001 AFC Divisional Round Game in Gruden's first stint as the Raiders head coach. Tom Brady was stripped of the ball by cornerback Charles Woodson late in the fourth quarter, and officials stated the pass was incomplete as the ball was moving forward, implementing "the Tuck Rule". The Patriots would go on to win the game in overtime and win their first Super Bowl that year.
Nearly 20 years after that game, Gruden still has difficulty living with the results of that game, saying earlier this year that "he did fumble that damn ball."
Gruden will now face Brady as he's playing for a new team after being on the Patriots for 19 seasons. Gruden marvels at the fact that Brady, at 43 years old, is still in the league playing at a high level with new weapons.
"You don't know what age he is," said Gruden. "We should take a good look at it. He's not showing any signs of age at all. He's one of the great quarterbacks, certainly. We know that. He's adapted every year to different personnel, different coordinators. He's the best. It's a great thrill for us to be able to compete against him."
Derek Carr vs. Tom Brady
Just a heads up: Tom Brady is going to be a recurring topic in these key matchups.
Derek Carr will also have the task of trying to outduel Tom Brady this Sunday. Carr has been enjoying a successful season so far with his young, talented receiving corps, boasting the highest completion percentage of all starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Carr has also thrown for 1,142 yards with an 11:1 TD-to-INT ratio.
Tom Brady will be the fourth former NFL MVP quarterback this season Carr has played against, and Carr has thrown more touchdowns in each game against the first three he's already faced.
“I’m going to give it everything that I have just like I do every week, every time I hit the field." Derek Carr
But Carr is not too worried about any head-to-head matchup with the future Hall of Famer; he's just trying to leave Allegiant Stadium with a victory.
"I'm here to do my job at the highest level I can possibly give to this team, this organization," Carr said Wednesday. "I'm going to give it everything that I have, just like I do every week, every time I hit the field. My focus is one thing and one thing only, and that's winning these football games because I've done the numbers thing, I've done the Pro Bowl thing, I've been up for these kinds of things and none of that means anything without winning a championship. So, my goal is to win this game and then go through my process and win the next game."
"All the other stuff that comes with it, that's for everyone to talk about and tweet about. I just don't care anymore."
Raiders defensive line vs. Tom Brady
Yep, you guessed it.
Tom Brady is lethal when he's left in the pocket to make plays to his receivers. He has over 76,000 passing yards and over 210 regular season wins to prove it. Similar to Brady's situation in New England, Tampa Bay has put together an elite offensive line to block for him as well.
The Silver and Black defensive line put together one of their better performances against Patrick Mahomes before the bye week, sacking him three times and forcing him out of the pocket on many of his throws.
Don't get me wrong — Brady has proven he can still compete at a high level, but the man is still 43 years old. Through the right lens, this situation looks eerily similar to the Monday night victory Week 2 against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
A lot of pressure will be on the defensive line of the Raiders to once again be able to win the line of scrimmage and get after Tom Brady. Brady heralded for his passing, not scrambling, and he'll need to be disrupted if the Raiders want to win, especially with the receivers Brady has at his disposal with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski.