For the first time this season, the Oakland Raiders are headed to primetime.
Sunday night, the eyes of the NFL world will be on the Silver and Black when they head to the nation's capital to take on Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins in the Week 3 edition of Sunday Night Football.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group heads into the matchup winners of back-to-back games, while the Redskins also enter the Week 3 clash on the heels of a win themselves.
Sunday night's game at FedExField should be a lot of fun, so let's take a look at three matchups that will have a big impact on how the game eventually plays out.
Running Backs Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, and DeAndré Washington vs. Running Backs Robert Kelley, Samaje Perine, and Chris Thompson
The Raiders and Redskins share a few similarities, they both have ascending quarterbacks – we'll get to that later – but they also employ multiple running backs who can get the job done on the ground.
Entering Sunday's matchup at FedExField, both the Silver and Black and the Redskins boast top five running games – Washington ranks No. 3 while Oakland is in hot pursuit at No. 5 – and getting those backs geared up and running are critical for the team's respective offenses.
Not only have both squads been effective running the ball in the early stages of 2017, but they've enjoyed a balanced attack doing so, with multiple players getting involved in the mix.
While Marshawn Lynch has handled the bulk of the work for the Raiders (30 carries), both Richard (11 carries) and Washington (nine carries) have seen their fair share of work too. On the other side of things, the Redskins share an even closer split with Robert Kelly (22 carries) and Samaje Perine (21 carries) being within a single carry of each other.
You also have to account for Chris Thompson who has six carries for 81 yards in limited carries this season too.
Which group of backs gets rolling faster and stronger Sunday? We'll have to wait to find out, but it's going to be something to keep an eye on all evening.
Quarterback Derek Carr vs. Quarterback Kirk Cousins
This matchup will be fun to watch.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group has its franchise quarterback with Carr at the helm, but don't sleep on Cousins on the other sideline.
Now in his sixth NFL season – and his third as the Redskins starter – Cousins is coming off a career year that saw him throw for nearly 5,000 yards when all was said and done. The veteran quarterback might not consistently produce highlight-reel throws, but make no mistake about it, Cousins is a top of the line NFL quarterback who regularly puts his team in position to win.
That being said, at this point, we all know what we're going to get from "DC" week in and week out. He's unquestionably one of the most-talented quarterbacks in the game, and when he's rocking and rolling, you'd be hard pressed to find a better player to command Todd Downing's offense.
As is the case with many NFL teams, both the Raiders and Redskins will go as far as their respective quarterbacks take them, so watching Carr and Cousins go head to head at FedExField will be an entertaining battle to track.
Cornerback David Amerson vs. Wide Receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Give credit where credit is due, now-wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. has completely reinvented himself as a football player, and the days of him being the starting quarterback for the Silver and Black seem like a lifetime ago.
But, alas, that's precisely what Pryor was just a few years ago, starting 10 games for the Raiders, throwing for 1,994 yards, and nine touchdowns. Fast forward to the present day, and Pryor – now a wide receiver – is one of the best, if not *the *best option that Cousins has out wide.
Last season as a Cleveland Brown, Pryor eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and found the end zone four times, and while he has yet to score in 2017, his pure athleticism makes him a dangerous player from anywhere on the field.
I would imagine that almost all of the Raiders cornerbacks will get a shot at Pryor at some point Sunday evening, but I'll be keeping a close eye on Amerson in particular. Not only has the rangy cornerback once again been a fixture in Ken Norton, Jr.'s base defense in 2017, Sunday's game will also be a homecoming of sorts for No. 29.
Before he was claimed via waivers by the Raiders, Amerson spent the first two seasons of his career with the Redskins, and while he's downplaying his return to the nation's capital, I'm sure his heart will be pumping just a little bit harder than usual pregame.