The Oakland Raiders have now won three games in a row, and will look to continue their hot streak Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs arrive in Oakland boasting a 2-2 record, and although they earned just a .500 record through the first quarter of the season, they will face the Raiders after a Week 5 bye, a slot where Head Coach Andy Reid boasts an impressive 15-2 career record.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio routinely talks about stacking wins, and the Raiders will look to do just that Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, so here are three matchups that will be crucial in the end result of the game.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper vs. Cornerback Marcus Peters
Both Cooper and Peters have had impressive starts to their burgeoning NFL careers.
The pair was named to the Pro Bowl following their rookie campaigns, with Cooper totaling over 1,000 receiving yards, and Peters snagging eight interceptions during the 2015 season.
Both players are once again off to positive starts in their second professional seasons, and seeing Cooper and Peters lined up against each other, going toe-to-toe, will be a football fan's dream this Sunday.
"He's [Peters] aggressive, a playmaker, great hands, great ball skills as DB [defensive back]," said quarterback Derek Carr. "Anytime a corner has great ball skills, you have to be careful with those 50-50 chance balls. You have to be careful in that aspect, but it's the same way whenever we play all of those top corners, which he is one of."
Carr is right, and with four interceptions in his first four games of 2016, Peters has shown that he is indeed one of the top-flight cornerbacks in the NFL, but he'll no doubt have his hands full attempting to shut down Cooper, who is quietly becoming a force in his own right.
Cooper and Peters are set to square off twice a year for the foreseeable future, and Sunday's matchup figures to be an entertaining battle between two of the more dynamic, young players in the league.
Linebacker Perry Riley Jr. vs. Running Back Spencer Ware
After missing the first three games of the regular season, Jamaal Charles returned to the football field, albeit it in limited capacity, Week 4 when the Kansas City Chiefs took on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although the Pro Bowl running back was back to work, the Chiefs still relied heavily on running back Spencer Ware to carry the bulk of the rushing duties, just as he has all season in Charles' absence.
The third-year back currently leads the Chiefs in rushing with 284 yards and one touchdown, and although Charles now claims to be "110 percent," it would stand to reason that the Ware will likely remain a critical component of the Chiefs offense, at least for the time being.
While the Raiders defense has had its struggles in recent weeks, the team was able to effectively limit San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon last week, holding the dynamic runner to just 69 yards on 16 carries.
Key to that improvement was the play of linebacker Perry Riley, Jr., who delivered a quality performance just days after signing with the Silver and Black.
Riley himself said he was stout in the run, and if he can put together another strong outing, and limit Ware, it would pay dividends for the Raiders defense from top to bottom.
Offensive Lineman Kelechi Osemele vs. Defensive Lineman Dontari Poe
This is going to be a battle between two big, strong, athletic men.
With Latavius Murray missing practice this week, his status for Sunday's game against the Chiefs is now in question, meaning that the Silver and Black will likely have to depend on the rookie tandem of Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington once again.
Regardless of the personnel, the Raiders will look to establish dominance rushing the ball, and through their first four games, the Chiefs have shown to be susceptible to big days on the ground, as they're currently allowing 129.5 rushing yards per game.
Kelechi Osemele joined the Silver and Black to be a mauling asset in the run game, and he'll certainly have a big – no pun intended – task in front of him Sunday as he squares off against the 346 pound nose tackle.
Throughout his five-year career, Poe has shown to be stout against the run, and I'll be looking forward to seeing these two behemoths go at it Sunday afternoon.