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Pick Six: All Eyes On The Raiders As They Return To Primetime


Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree

The Silver and Black are headed back to primetime.

After starting the season 2-0 for the first time since 2002, the Oakland Raiders will now travel east to take on the Washington Redskins in the Week 3 edition of Sunday Night Football.

The eyes of the football world will be on Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad Sunday night when they get to work at FedExField, so before the game officially kicks off, here are six things you should be keeping an eye on.

1. Can "DC" take advantage of the Redskins defense?

Granted, two games isn't a huge sample size, but in the Redskins first two games, defensively, they've been a stout group against the run, but have had their fair share of challenges stopping the opposing team's passing attack.

Heading into Sunday's primetime matchup, Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky's group is allowing just 75 yards per game on the ground, compared to a less impressive 269 through the air.

Derek Carr has unsurprisingly gotten off to a good start in 2017, and I'll be interested to see if he can pick apart the Redskins defense Sunday night. With All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman patrolling the secondary, Carr will certainly have his hands full, but if there's any player of taking advantage of a team's defense miscues, it's No. 4.

2. Which team's run game will get rolling?

Offensively, the Raiders and Redskins share some similarities; both units are led by big-time quarterbacks, and both also have the benefit of employing multiple players who can spark the ground game.

Led by Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders also have viable ball carriers in Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington, while the Redskins employ a formidable running backs corps themselves of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine.

Kelley has been a limited participant in practice all week, so keep an eye on his availability for Sunday, but regardless of whether he's able to go or not, whichever group of backs is able to get rolling Sunday night will go a long way in establishing offensive dominance.

3. Return of the King

Simply put, Michael Crabtree was outstanding last weekend against the New York Jets.

At day's end, "King Crab" had hauled in six receptions, and found the end zone, not one, not two, but three times. It was the second time in as many years that Crabtree hauled in three touchdowns in a game, and just a few days clear of his 30th birthday, No. 15 showed that age is not slowing him down in the slightest.

Now, a week later, he'll have his hands full going against Josh Norman and the Redskins secondary, in what will be the Raiders first primetime clash of 2017.

Can Crabtree keep the positive momentum rolling in D.C.? We'll have to wait until Sunday night to find out.

4. Amerson sees some old friends

Before he was one of the best cover corners in the NFL with the Silver and Black, David Amerson was a young cornerback trying to find his way with the Washington Redskins.

Originally drafted by Washington in the second round (No. 51 overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft, Amerson spent the first two seasons with the Redskins before being waived, and ultimately ending up with the Raiders.

Now, two years later, he's set to square off with his former team for the first time, and while he's downplayed his return to the nation's capital, you'd have to think that there will be a little extra excitement for Amerson when he touches down at FedExField.

While it might be a little odd for Amerson to head into the visitor's locker room for the first time, I expect that after the first play or two, it'll be business as usual for No. 29.

5. Will Sunday be Jamize'ing?

Jamize Olawale certainly isn't the flashiest player on the Raiders roster, but he's no doubt a critical cog in the team's run game.

The versatile fullback/running back hasn't yet suited for a game in 2017 while he recovers from injury, but after being a full participant in practice this week, I'll be keeping a close eye on No. 49 to see if he makes his regular season debut.

While Olawale's bread and butter will always be as a lead blocker, don't you dare sleep on him as a playmaker. Granted, Olawale doesn't have his number called a ton, but when he does, he has routinely made the most of those opportunities.

6. It's primetime

There's nothing quite like primetime.

The lights shine brighter, the games seem a little bit bigger, and the eyes of the football world are on one, single game.

This Sunday, that game will be Raiders/Redskins, and it'll be the first time in 2017 that the Raiders take on primetime.

Head Coach Del Rio is going to have his squad ready to rock, and I for one, can't wait for Sunday night.

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