As up and down as the first 12 games of 2017 have been for the Oakland Raiders, who would have thought that the Silver and Black enter the final quarter of the regular season slate in complete control of their own destiny?
But after taking care of business at home, and defeating the New York Giants 24-17, that's where Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad stands, headed into a colossal road matchup next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Before Week 13 officially kicked off, we highlighted three matchups to keep an eye on; now with a much-needed W in their pocket, let's take a look back at those battles and see how they played, presented by DirecTV.
Assistant Head coach – Defense John Pagano vs. Quarterback Geno Smith
Pagano said last Thursday that his defense would be preparing for both Geno Smith and Eli Manning, but as it turns out, former Head Coach Ben McAdoo (he was fired along with General Manager Jerry Reese on Monday) decided to roll with Smith for all 62 of the Giants offensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Raiders.
Pagano's group built on a strong outing against the Denver Broncos, making life incredibly difficult for Smith and the Giants offense, in the first half in particular where Smith was limited to just nine completions for 93 yards.
At game's end, Smith had 21 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, but nothing that the athletic quarterback wanted to do came easily against the Silver and Black's defense.
Not only did the Raiders secondary show up in a big way against the Giants, but the pass rush also made sure they left their imprint on the game, taking down Smith three times behind the line of scrimmage.
The Raiders knew they would have to limit Geno Smith if they wanted to tally their sixth win of the regular season, and they did just that Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Wide Receiver Seth Roberts vs. Cornerback Ross Cockrell
We knew that in order for the Raiders to find success on the offensive side of the football against the Giants, the team's supporting cast would need to step up big.
Without Amari Cooper and Derek Carr in the mix, the depth of the Silver and Black's wide receiving corps was put to the test Sunday afternoon, but the triumvirate of Roberts, Johnny Holton and Cordarelle Patterson all showed up bigtime at the OACC.
While Roberts finished the 24-17 win with five receptions for 46 yards, Patterson was the one who paced the Raiders, hauling in four catches for 97 yards, including one, explosive 59 yarder.
While Cockrell did finish the game with six tackles, he didn't tally a pass defensed, and with Carr throwing for nearly 300 yards, it's hard to say that the Giants cornerback won this matchup.
Tackle Marshall Newhouse vs. Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul
The veteran defensive end is likely the most dangerous playmaker on the Giants defensive line, but give credit to Newhouse and the rest of the big fellas up front for keeping No. 90 away from Carr for most of the afternoon.
The Raiders offensive line surrendered just a single sack in the win over the Giants – a third quarter takedown by Calvin Munson – and while J.P.P. did get loose for one tackle for loss, outside of that, the explosive defensive end was rendered obsolete for much of the afternoon.
Not only did Mike Tice's group give Carr plenty of time to operate, they were nasty in the run game as well, helping spring Marshawn Lynch for 101 yards, his first 100-yard day as a Raider.
Even in his eighth NFL season, Pierre-Paul still has the ability to wreck a game, but give credit to Newhouse and Co., they certainly didn't allow him to do that against the Raiders.