The Raiders are in the process of getting settled in Florida, preparing for a talented Jacksonville Jaguars team ahead of them.
The Silver and Black, reeling off a 24-0 loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, have brought a sense of urgency with them to Florida. Approaching the midway point of the season with a 2-5 record, this game is as important as any for them.
"I felt our players, they were ready to practice last week," Josh McDaniels said of last Sunday's defeat. "I thought they had a good week of practice and preparation. That has not been our M.O., that has not been our identity this year. And we're going to work very hard to make sure that we don't allow that to happen again going forward.
"Again, I think there's a lot that goes into performances when you don't play very well, and usually there's a lot of little things that you can do better. We're hard at work and making sure that we try to eliminate some of those things and do better the things we didn't do well enough."
Here are a couple key matchups to follow going into the Raiders' Week 9 game.
Kolton Miller & Jermaine Eluemunor vs. Josh Allen & Travon Walker
The Las Vegas Raiders offensive line will have two young, dynamic linebackers on both sides to game plan against Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is a young, rising unit still trying to find their way with their new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. The Jags are fortunate to have Pro Bowler Josh Allen, who had 7.5 sacks last season, and the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Travon Walker.
The Jaguars decided to go with the National Champion-winning linebacker from Georgia, who has gotten acclimated quickly in his rookie season. The linebacking duo has combined for 5.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hits and three pass deflections this season.
"Josh Allen is a very good pass rusher on the edge. ... They're big, they're long, they're powerful and they're strong, and they make a lot of negative plays in the backfield," said offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi. "And they do a good job against the run. They can rush the passer. So, again, we've actually experienced them. We got to play with them in the preseason, which is beneficial. The guys have studied them a little bit, but I think it starts in the film room today. The guys are hard at work kind of studying their habits, looking at their tendencies in terms of pass rushes – how they play the run, what fronts they play."
The two linebackers will be a great challenge for team captain Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor, the two tackles that have found consistent roles in Josh McDaniels' offense this season. Miller has a 78.2 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus this season and Eluemunor has been able to use his versatility at right tackle, right guard and jumbo tight end this season.
Derek Carr vs. Trevor Lawrence
Something tells me that we may have another quarterback duel on our hands in Jacksonville this Sunday.
Both the Raiders and the Jaguars have done a lot this offseason to bolster the offense around their quarterbacks. Derek Carr now has Pro Bowl receiver and college teammate Davante Adams on his side, and they've connected for five touchdowns on the season. Trevor Lawrence has two exceptional receivers in Christian Kirk and former Raiders wideout Zay Jones, along with his former college running back Travis Etienne Jr., who has been having an impressive beginning to the season following missing his entire rookie year with a foot injury.
The two quarterbacks' seasons have mirrored each other from a statistical and record perspective. Both are coming into this showdown with two wins and hovering over 62 percent completion. Carr has thrown nine touchdowns and five interceptions while Lawrence has thrown 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
"For me, it's just making sure I'm on time with my throws, my eyes are in the right place," Carr said, giving an evaluation of himself. "Throughout my whole career, that's how I've always been, make sure you start with your eyes in the right place and try and make an accurate throw on time. That's how you get those ones where you throw it and you get hit or things like that. That's part of the game, they're going to get there at some point. I can't speak for everybody, but I can speak for me, like that's how I go about it."