The Las Vegas Raiders are looking energetic after a 24-point win over the New York Giants.
However, they aren't dwelling on the win as they've moved on to the next task at hand: a battle with the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football.
The Raiders and the Jets are similar in some regards. Both have four wins this season, trying to ride the wave of their young performers. The Silver and Black will be looking for production from rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell and captain Maxx Crosby, while the Jets have a few high-octane players on both sides of the ball, such as Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner and Crosby's 2019 draft classmate Quinnen Williams, who could make an impact.
A win for either team would be beneficial as we get into the meat of the season. Therefore, here are three key matchups to keep an eye on as Sunday approaches.
Davante Adams vs. Sauce Gardner
Let's be honest, this is the marquee matchup everyone should be excited to watch.
One of the best receivers this league has to offer in Davante Adams will line up across rising superstar cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner for the first time. Most casual NFL consumers are knowledgeable of what Adams is capable of. Despite recent struggles within the offense, he still leads the team in receiving yards (573) and catches (51).
His elite ability to get open will be tested against perhaps the most physically imposing cornerback he'll face this season. Gardner has quickly risen the ranks as one of the top defenders in the NFL, winning AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and being named a First-Team All-Pro in 2022. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has remained on top of his game following his rookie campaign, with five pass deflections, a forced fumble and an 86.7 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus through seven games.
"Sauce Gardner is a problem. ... Very talented individual," Interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce said. "A lot of confidence, swag, ballhawking. Creates opportunities for his defense with his length. Plays to the strength of the system as well. Knows where his help is. Smart football player, really good football player. Very talented. It's going to be fun to watch whoever he's matched up on and just watch how our guys compete against them."
Marcus Peters vs. Garrett Wilson
This next matchup, like Adams vs. Gardner, pits another exceptional veteran force against another rising superstar.
There's no such thing as an easy matchup when you're a cornerback in the NFL, but Marcus Peters will have his hands full with Garrett Wilson. Peters is a certified ballhawk, sparking that mentality within the defense since his arrival to Las Vegas. The Silver and Black have put together a top 10 ranked pass defense that has notched eight interceptions – one of those being a pick-six from Peters in Week 8 against the Detroit Lions. Peters also has a team-high five pass deflections.
The 30-year-old cornerback will likely line up against second-year sensation Garrett Wilson, who led the Jets in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches as a rookie. Coming off an AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, he's still leading the Jets in all of those categories in 2023. According to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, it's hard to find a weakness in Wilson's repertoire.
"[C]ombination of speed, quickness and the ability to catch the ball from all different types of angles," Graham said. "His catch radius is pretty dynamic, in my opinion, and he presents a lot of challenges. They do a good job of moving him around and finding ways to give him the ball."
Josh Jacobs vs. Breece Hall
The talent between these two running backs shouldn't go unnoticed heading into Sunday night.
A sleeping giant arose last Sunday, as Josh Jacobs had his best game of the season against the Giants with 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His received his best two rushing grades from Pro Football Focus in his last two games as well.
"I saw that heart beating. ... He's the heartbeat, he's a Raider," Pierce said of Jacobs postgame. "When you watch Josh run, he runs angry, and he got back to that running style that we saw last year. It was just feed him, just go."
On the other sideline, Jacobs will be in a rushing battle against second-year back Breece Hall. The former Michigan State Spartan has been nothing short of dynamic this year, implementing himself as arguably the most versatile piece of the Jets offense. Through eight games, he has recorded nearly 700 total scrimmage yards, 117 touches and three touchdowns. His explosive playmaking stands out on tape, with nearly 200 rushing yards after contact and three rushes over 40 yards (second in the NFL).
"With Hall, the thing is everybody's at the point of attack," said Graham. "No matter where the play is designed to go, he could go anywhere with the ball."
This matchup could define the game as both defenses have statistically struggled against the run this season.
View team photographer Matt Aguirre's top 25 photos from Allegiant Stadium's catwalk during the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 9 victory against the New York Giants.