Key Matchups To Watch: Oakland Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills

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The Oakland Raiders home stand comes to an end Sunday afternoon, when the Silver and Black play host to the Buffalo Bills at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. 

With last week's thrilling win over the Carolina Panthers, the Silver and Black own a 9-2 record, and are still on top of the AFC West standings, clear of the Kansas City Chiefs by one game.

The Bills come into Sunday's matchup with the Silver and Black winners of two in a row themselves, and although they're in third place in the AFC East, Rex Ryan's group still find themselves squarely in the middle of the playoff chase.

The Week 13 clash at the OACC is setting up to be an exciting game that will be won in the trenches, so here are three matchups to keep an eye on during the rumble between the Raiders and Bills.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio vs. Head Coach Rex Ryan

Regardless of the level, football teams typically take on the personalities of their head coaches, and the Raiders and Bills are no exception to that rule.

Rex Ryan loves to control the clock, dominate the line of scrimmage, and run the ball, and that's exactly what the Bills have done so far in 2016.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio has also built his team in a similar mold, although the Raiders do have the added benefit of having Derek Carr slinging the ball from under center.

Not only are Ryan and Del Rio both defensive-minded coaches, but they are also very familiar with each other, as the pair spent three seasons together as part of Brian Billick's staff in Baltimore from 1999-2001.

"It was a tremendous time in my life and in my coaching career, to be in that environment that Brian Billick created," said Head Coach Del Rio of the time he spent with Ryan in Baltimore. "It was an outstanding environment to work in. He encouraged us to grow."

With the familiarity that Ryan and Del Rio have with each other – particularly on the defensive side of the football – Sunday's game will likely turn into a chess match, and whichever staff can collectively adjust throughout the game will probably head home with a tally in the win column.

Raiders Defensive Line vs. Bills Offensive Line

If you're a fan old-school, smash mouth football, Sunday's bout at the OACC is one for you.

The Bills don't pull any punches, they want to run the football, and so far in 2016 they've done that at an impressive clip.

In fact, they're the best at the NFL in doing just that, averaging 157.4 yards per game ground through the first 12 weeks of the regular season.

"They really do everything that I can think of that I've ever seen in the run game, they have it one form or fashion," Del Rio explained. "They basically throw the gauntlet at you. They've got a formation thing and they see how you're wanting to play it. Then they've got a series of plays they get to and they're very good at it. Number one in the league, and that's saying something."

While the Bills ground attack is led by Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy, the group also has the benefit of utilizing Tyrod Taylor who in many respects is the prototypical dual-threat quarterback.

Sunday's game will be unquestionably won in the trenches, and the big guys up front for each team will have a huge – no pun intended – impact on the Week 13 game.

It comes down to this; one line will assert its dominance as the game wears on, and I'll be keeping a close eye to see which team's group is able to do just that.

Left Tackle Donald Penn vs. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander

Oakland-native Lorenzo Alexander is coming back to the Bay Area, and he's coming back at a pretty good time, as he's currently in the midst of a career rebirth, at age 33 no less.

After spending the first nine years of his career – including one season in Silver and Black – as predominantly a special teams player, Alexander signed with the Buffalo Bills prior to the start of the 2016 regular season.

And what a decision that turned out to be for the veteran linebacker, as he's morphed into a legitimate weapon for the Bills defense, currently ranking second in the NFL with 10 sacks.

That being said, don't count Derek Carr as one of the players surprised by the success that Alexander has found this season.

"I'm not surprised at all," Carr said. "I've kept up with Lorenzo. We talk, I feel, like every week. It's been every week. We still talk because he's such a great guy. I mean, you guys know, you guys talked to him. He's a professional, he's a great person off the field and obviously I wish him the best besides this week. But, I'm not surprised because I know how hard he plays."

The battle between Alexander and left tackle Donald Penn will be one of the more intriguing ones to watch Sunday, as the Raiders have excelled in keeping Carr upright all season, and Alexander is obviously in the midst of a Pro Bowl campaign.

Something has to give, and I'll be looking forward to watching it all play out.

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