The Oakland Raiders needed a win, and Thursday night they got exactly that, taking down the Kansas City Chiefs 31-10 in an instant classic at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The win not only snapped the Silver and Black's four-game skid, but also vaulted them back into contention in an AFC West that seems to be getting more congested by the day. Now back in the win column, Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group will look to keep the momentum rolling as they head back out on the road for the next two weeks.
First up will be an improved Buffalo Bills squad that has won three of their last four, so here are three, key matchups to keep an eye on when the Silver and Black descent upon New Era Field, presented by Madden 18.
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman vs. Running Back LeSean McCoy
Learn the Raiders defensive playbook in three days? Check.
Lead the team in tackles in your first game as a Raider? Also check.
It's been a whirlwind week for NaVorro Bowman, but the whirlwind will keep on spinning this weekend, as he and his defensive teammates get set to face off against running back LeSean McCoy and the Bills offense.
Now in his ninth NFL season – and his third in Upstate New York – McCoy is still at the top of his game even at age 29.
While his 370 rushing yards are good for 16th in the league, his 220 receiving yards is good for second on his team, just behind tight end Charles Clay's 258.
"I think they have as good a back as there is in the league in Shady [LeSean McCoy]," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "I think he's really good."
Bowman also had kind words about the Bills All-Pro running back, but there won't be any love lost Sunday afternoon when they square off in Week 8 action.
Bowman enjoyed a strong debut in Silver and Black, and if he can keep it going this Sunday, it would spell good things for Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.'s group as a whole.
Defensive End Khalil Mack vs. Tackle Cordy Glenn
Khalil Mack is going going, back back, to Buffalo, and I'm sure he'd like to put up some big numbers in his return to the city where he played college football.
Before he was an All-Pro defensive end, Mack was an otherworldly stud at the University of Buffalo where he finished his career as a Bull as arguably the best football player to ever come out of the program.
Now entering Week 8, Mack will look to keep up his strong 2017 campaign against Cordy Glenn and a tough, Buffalo offensive line.
While No. 52 will certainly move around the defensive front throughout the afternoon, I expect him and Glenn to see a lot of each other, so make sure you keep an eye on their battles at New Era Field.
The Bills have allowed 19 sacks this season; hopefully Mack can make that number go up just a little.
Center Rodney Hudson and Guards Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele vs. Defensive Tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams
You always want the bad news first, so here we go; Marshawn Lynch won't be suiting up for the Raiders Sunday afternoon as he serves his one-game suspension for making contact with a referee in last Thursday's win over the Chiefs.
The good news though? With a combined 211 yards, the tandem of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are just 55 yards clear of what "Beast Mode" has run for in 2017.
Richard and Washington are more than capable of handling the rushing responsibilities while Lynch is on the sideline, but while a ton of eyes will understandably be on the two second-year backs, make sure you're keeping tabs of the big fellas up front, particularly along the interior of the offense line.
Mike Tice's group is in the midst of another quality campaign, but it won't be easy sledding against a stout Buffalo Bills defensive front. Head Coach Del Rio likes to say that it all starts up front with the battle in the trenches, and that will certainly be the case Sunday afternoon.