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Key Matchups: What happens when a Jim Thorpe Award winner meets a Fred Biletnikoff Award winner?


Last Sunday against the Chiefs, Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia admitted that the Raiders didn't play well in any of the three phrases of the game.

A week removed from the 41-14 loss, the Silver and Black will have to play good football in all three phrases to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, who are pulling up to Las Vegas with game changers in all three phases of the ball – including a Heisman-winning quarterback, a formidable front seven and a rising star kicker. The Raiders will have their hands full, yet have all of the tools to combat it.

Here's this week's key matchups to watch out for this Sunday with both teams fighting for their sixth win of the season.

Tre'von Moehrig vs. Ja'Marr Chase

Ja'Marr Chase has linked up with his Heisman-winning quarterback in Cincinnati, and just like at LSU, they've been a problem.

Chase is currently leading all rookie receivers in receiving yards (835) and touchdowns (seven). The rookie has seemed to already establish himself as a top deep threat for years to come – with his six receptions over 40 yards this season. However, the Raiders drafted a free safety this year who has done a good job of eliminating the explosive plays Chase is known to make.

Tre’von Moehrig, the 2020 Jim Thorpe Award winner, has been having a sneaky good rookie year. The safety has 23 tackles, an interception and has allowed a catch on only 37 percent of the targets towards him. He currently has a 72.8 Pro Football Focus grade, and has played with great poise for a rookie this season – alongside with rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs.

"Tre'von has been a real mature player since he's gotten here," said Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia. "He's seemed to make a very easy transition into pro football because of a little bit of his personality. And I think Coach [Ron] Milus has done a great job with him. Not falling into the trap of the mundane of being deepest to deepest and playing back there at the free safety position. I think he's taken that on well with Coach Milus. ... I think his maturity level has helped him make the transition. And I think he's developed a good relationship with Coach Milus in order to play the position the way we need it to be played."

Moehrig, in the deep safety, eraser tackler role, should see a lot of action against Chase, who will be trying to test the Raiders cornerbacks throughout the majority of the game.

Kolton Miller vs. Trey Hendrickson

Both Kolton Miller and Trey Hendrickson may be the most underrated players on their respective team, and the similarities don't stop there.

The two will be facing each other once again in Allegiant Stadium. The last time the two faced off was last season when Hendrickson was with the New Orleans Saints. In that game, Hendrickson had five tackles and a sack. Despite the nice statline from the edge rusher, Derek Carr threw for 284 yards, three touchdowns and beat Hendrickson and the Saints 34-24.

Hendrickson was second in the league in sacks last season and has proved with his new team that it wasn't a fluke. He's racked up 8.5 through nine games in Cincinnati. Nothing will come easy for him against Kolton Miller, as the left tackle has only surrendered one sack this season. The two players have established themselves as integral parts of their team, so it will definitely be an exciting matchup to watch in the trenches.

Daniel Carlson vs. Evan McPherson

The Raiders and Bengals both have offenses that can move the ball down the field. As such, the two starting kickers could see the field a lot this Sunday.

Daniel Carlson has put up a lot of points for the Raiders over the past two seasons. Last season, he broke the Raiders' single-season record for most points scored in a season (143) and has scored 70 points so far this season. His 14 points scored against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 won him the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

On the other side, the Bengals have a talented rookie kicker in Evan McPherson. The kicker out of Florida was the only kicker to be drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. He made his presence felt from the jump, kicking a a game-winning 33-yard FG in OT of the Bengals' season opener – and won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. While he's had his fair share of rookie woes, with a field goals made percentage under 79 percent, he's made several clutch kicks. If the game is on the line, both teams will have a lot of faith in their young kickers to go win the game for them.

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