The Oakland Raiders knew when they traveled to Buffalo last week they'd face a tough task in running back LeSean McCoy, and dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Unfortunately, the Silver and Black were unable to stop the duo, and gave them far too many opportunities off of turnovers. While the Raiders were forced to face one of the better running backs in the league last week, when they travel to Miami in Week 9 they won't have to stop former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi had a breakout campaign in 2016, as he rushed for 1,272 yards, and eight touchdowns, both career highs. The reason the Raiders won't have to face him – at least for the time being – is because he was shipped off to Philadelphia in a trade with the Eagles, who the Silver and Black will face in Week 16. Even though the departure of the former Boise State Bronco means the Fins won't Ajayi at their disposal, there are still a handful of talented individuals on the Miami roster.
With Week 9 set to officially begin today, let's take a look at three key matchups you should keep an eye on at Hard Rock Stadium, presented by Madden 18.
Guard Kelechi Osemele vs. Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh
What a matchup this will be, as two of the most physical players in football go toe-to-toe on the gridiron. Through eight weeks of action, Suh is Pro Football Focus' second-rated interior defensive lineman overall with a grade of 91.4. Osemele has been a force to be reckoned with since entering the league, but as a member of the Raiders, big No. 70 has been pancaking opponents left and right.
If there's anyone in the league that combat Suh's tenacity, it's Osemele. He's currently the No. 16 graded guard in the NFL PFF, and has been an anchor of Raiders front on a consistent basis.
Personally, this is the matchup I'm most excited to watch this Sunday.
Raiders Secondary vs. Wide Receivers Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker
The current quarterback situation in Miami is an interesting one. The team signed quarterback Jay Cutler this offseason to fill the void created by an injured Ryan Tannehill, but as of late Cutler has been sidelined with health problems as well. Many considered the Dolphins receiving corps among the best in the league, with reception magnets Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker handling a majority of the workload. Due to their rotating door of quarterbacks, neither of them have really been able to get going, but are still a threat at any point of the game.
At the moment, Landry has the second-most receptions in the league with 50, and he'll be a target worth neutralizing, without a doubt. The Raiders secondary has been unable to haul in an interception this season, but it's possible it could come this week. If the Silver and Black are able to jam Landry and Parker at the line of scrimmage, and play that physical brand of football Head Coach Jack Del Rio has emphasized, the team should be able to keep the Dolphins offense at bay.
Raiders Defensive Line vs. Running Back Kenyan Drake
As mentioned previously, the Dolphins have traded their leading rusher Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, and it will be on Kenyan Drake to get the rushing attack going. The former University of Alabama running back is only in his second year at the professional level, and has played second fiddle behind Ajayi for the entirety of his tenure.
While at Alabama, Drake was used in a variety of ways, as he served a prevalent role in the rushing and receiving game. In his first official game as the team's go-to guy, he'll face his first hurdle against a Raiders run defense that's only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season, LeSean McCoy. If defensive end Khalil Mack and Co., can disrupt things in the trenches, it'll be hard for Drake to find success.