The Oakland Raiders will enlist for battle Monday night when they face the Philadelphia Eagles on the road for a little Christmas action. That’s right, once you’ve unwrapped all your presents, and most likely enjoyed the majority of the day’s festivities, the Silver and Black will take center stage on Monday Night Football against one of the best teams in football.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, second-year quarterback Carson Wentz will be unable to play due to a torn ACL he suffered against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. Even with him gone, Philly has a multitude of playmakers on offense and defense.
Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups that will be featured on Christmas, presented by Madden 18.
Raiders Trio of Running Backs vs. Eagles Trio of Running Backs
The Raiders and the Eagles have similar backfields in a way, considering they both have physical runners who can bully offensive lines, and finesse backs who are elusive pass catchers.
The most comparable are Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Eagles running back Legarrette Blount. Both in physical appearance and running style, Lynch and Blount exude a violent attitude on the field. Lynch has a total of 695 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while Blount has 717 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Both veteran backs are having strong seasons for their respective clubs; however, 23 year old Corey Clement leads the Eagles rushers in touchdowns with four, and has 117 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns to coincide with his impressive rookie résumé.
Raiders second-year backs Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington don’t match Clement’s stats exactly, but their play style is similar to the Eagles rookie. With Wentz sidelined, veteran signal-caller Nick Foles will take the reins, but the running backs will play a vital role in this week’s primetime showdown.
Oh, and don’t forget about Jay Ajayi who the Eagles acquired from the Miami Dolphins earlier this year via trade, he’s pretty good too.
Raiders Tackle Marshall Newhouse vs. Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham
Since joining the team in March, Marshall Newhouse has provided a quality presence in the locker room, and on the field. The veteran tackle has played a majority of the year at the right tackle position, but with Donald Penn out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury, he could be asked to rotate to left tackle. Either way, Newhouse and the rest of the offensive line will face a tough test this week when they try to stop Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham.
With two weeks left in the 2017 campaign, Graham is playing the best football of his career, as he’s set a new career-high in sacks (9.5), and scored his first touchdown just two weeks ago. According to Pro Football Focus, the former Michigan Wolverine is the No. 7 edge defender in the NFL with a rating of 91.2 – just two spots behind Khalil Mack who’s tied with Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell for No. 4.
Come Monday night it’s supposed to be in the low 30s, so I imagine it’ll be a battle of the big men in the trenches.
Raiders Cornerback Sean Smith vs. Eagles Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery
Sean Smith is coming off his best game of the year, finishing the Raiders’ Sunday night skirmish with the Dallas Cowboys with two interceptions, two passes defensed, and three tackles. Smith will need to be on his “A” game again this week, as he faces Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery. The sixth-year wide out is just one touchdown away from tying his career-high (10), and has hauled in his most receptions since 2014. Jeffery is the Eagles biggest receiving threat, and has the potential to go off at any given moment. Don’t think just because Wentz is out there will be a drop off in his production either. Foles threw four touchdowns last week in his first start of the year, and at 6’4”, 230 pounds, Jeffery makes for an easy target.
Watching Smith and Jeffery go toe-to-toe will be a key matchup all night.