After dropping their Week 6 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders will look to return to the win column Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field as they take on Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sunday’s game is a return to Florida of sorts for Head Coach Jack Del Rio, who served as the head coach for the Jaguars from 2003-11, and although he’s downplayed his return to Jacksonville all week, there will likely be a little extra emotion for the Silver and Black’s Commander in Chief.
The Raiders currently sit tied atop the AFC West, and will look to remain there – if not reclaim the outright lead – with a win over the Jaguars, so let’s take a look at three matchups that will be critical in determining the outcome of the Week 7 bout.
Quarterback Derek Carr vs. Quarterback Blake Bortles
In some sense, for their entire careers, Derek Carr and Blake Bortles will be connected, as they, along with Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, were part of the highly-touted quarterback class in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bortles went third overall, while the Raiders selected Carr in the second round (No. 36 overall), but although there were 32 picks between them – including two other quarterbacks – the pair will always be talked about in the same breathe.
“You always are grouped in that little group, with Teddy [Bridgewater], with Johnny [Manziel], Blake [Bortles], myself, Jimmy [Garoppolo], you think about all those guys that were in that class and that will always be forever,” said Carr. “When you think of your class, you always think of those guys. But, as I’ve been playing through the years, you don’t really think about it because it’s so far removed.”
Both Carr and Bortles and have enjoyed strong starts to their NFL careers, and their respective teams will go as far as their talented signal-callers take them, and Sunday will be no exception.
Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Carr and Bortles have shown to be two of the more electric young quarterbacks in the NFL, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing the two stars go toe-to-toe Sunday afternoon.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper vs. Cornerback Davon House
Amari Cooper is putting together another Pro Bowl-caliber season thus far, as he has 36 receptions for 585 yards, and one touchdown, but he’ll no doubt have his hands full going against the Jaguars secondary.
Through six games, defensive coordinator Todd Walsh’s group ranks in the Top 10 of passing defense, surrendering just 218.4 yards per game through the air, and a big reason for that is the play of cornerback Davon House.
House is now in his second season with the Jaguars after spending the first four years of his career with the Green Bay Packers, and he’s been impressive so far since he arrived in the Sunshine Sate.
In 2015, House set a career high with four interceptions, and although he hasn’t set recorded a takeaway so far in 2016, he’s provided staunch coverage, and made life difficult for opposing wide receivers throughout the first half of the season.
Cooper has now enjoyed back-to-back 100-yard games, and seeing him go up against House throughout the day Sunday will be a good battle to keep an eye on.
Cornerback David Amerson vs. Wide Receiver Allen Robinson
On the other side of the football, cornerback David Amerson will also have a big challenge in store for him, as he squares off with wide receiver Allen Robinson.
Robinson is second on the Jaguars with 287 receiving yards, and leads the team with three receiving touchdowns through six games.
While he hasn’t yet hit the century mark in a game during the 2016 regular season, the former Penn State Nittany Lion no doubt has the big-play ability to change the course of the game in a matter of seconds.
Amerson is no slouch himself, as he has nine passes defensed, and one interception thus far in 2016, and the game within the game of cornerback vs. wide receiver will be a battle that will likely have a large impact on the final score of the Week 7 clash.
Yes, Bortles has a multitude of offense weapons, but few, if any, are as dynamic as Robinson.