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Key Matchups To Watch: Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans


After a disappointing loss last weekend in their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons, the Oakland Raiders will now pack their bags and travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans this Sunday in Week 3 action at Nissan Stadium.

While the Silver and Black will look to rebound after a tough loss, the Titans enter Sunday's contest on the heels of a one-point come-from-behind road win over the Detroit Lions.

With both teams trying to climb above .500 in the early stages of the regular season, let's take a look at three matchups that will be crucial in determining the outcome of Sunday's game.

Defensive Tackles Justin Ellis and Dan Williams vs. Running Back DeMarco Murray

The interior of the Raiders defensive line will have a big task ahead of them Sunday.

Not only will they tasked with trying to limit Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota both through the air and on the ground, they'll also have to stop running back DeMarco Murray from getting on a roll.

Now in his sixth NFL season, Murray has a pair of Pro Bowl appearances to his name, and has the raw talent to break an explosive gain at any time, and Justin Ellis knows that attempting to have just one player take down the physical back is a tough ask.

"We need to get more than one person to the ball," said Ellis. "You have to hit him [Murray] low because he's explosive, and he runs the ball pretty hard. You have to hit him low, and you have to get to the ball. Right now, we need more than one person to the ball to make sure we get him down, and limit his yards."

Like the Raiders, the Tennessee offense is currently averaging over 100 rushing yards per game, so slowing Murray down would help to make Mariota and the Titans a little more one-dimensional in its attack.

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave vs. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau

The Raiders currently boast the No. 1 offense in the NFL, and the Titans have only allowed one offensive touchdown through the first two weeks of the regular season, so something has to give Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Musgrave has come fast out of the gates through the first two games, and Head Coach Jack Del Rio has applauded his in-game play calling, and for good reason too, as the offense has already tallied up nearly 1,000 yards, and is averaging 31.5 points per game.

However, Sunday's task won't be easy, as the man behind the Titans defense is long-time NFL assistant coach and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau. LeBeau is entering his second season on the Titans staff, but his first as defensive coordinator, and the Titans currently rank in the top half of the NFL in total defense.

Sunday's game is setting up to be an old-fashioned battle between an explosive offense and a stout defense, so seeing which coordinator gains the upper hand throughout the game will be something to keep a close eye on.

Defensive End Khalil Mack vs. Left Tackle Taylor Lewan

Entering 2016, the Raiders pass rush was a perceived strength of the team as a whole, but through the first pair of games, the productivity of the group hasn't lived up to the billing just yet.

All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack has yet to bring down the quarterback, and while his "slow" start is no cause for panic, a big game against the Titans would go a long way in calming the seas of people looking for answers to the Raiders defensive woes. To his credit though, Mack has not shied away from criticism about the defense, saying after the loss to the Falcons that his performance was "not good enough."

Similarly to the Raiders, the young Titans team has invested heavily in its offensive line, and the man charged with slowing down Mack, and protecting Mariota's blind side, is left tackle Taylor Lewan.

Lewan is a former first-round pick and now in his third season in Tennessee, the left tackle has 23 starts under his belt. Mariota is a mobile quarterback who has no qualms with leaving the pocket and heading to the open field, but if Mack can make his presence felt, it would certainly take away one of the second-year quarterback's main assets.

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