15 down, two more to go.
The Las Vegas Raiders return home to Allegiant Stadium this Sunday and despite injuries and on-field struggles, the team is trying to finish the season strong. The Silver and Black should be highly motivated going into their Week 16 matchup against their former cross-city rivals. The San Francisco 49ers are rolling on an eight-game winning streak, so the Raiders will have to play their best football in order to defeat them Sunday.
Here's the top head-to-head matchups to follow in the Raiders' New Years Day clash.
The Raiders defensive line vs. Brock Purdy
There's nothing irrelevant about the way 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is playing right now.
San Francisco's offense hasn't lost a step late in the season, despite being on their third quarterback. Brock Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, has led the team to four straight victories after Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined with a foot injury. During the four game stretch (three starts), the rookie quarterback has thrown for 846 yards and eight touchdowns.
"[H]e's good. He's getting the ball out quick," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said of Purdy. "He's doing what you ask a quarterback to do. Again, I've never coached offense at this level, but get the ball out quick, get the ball to the skill people, make good decisions in the run game. You see him checking the run. You see him doing all the right stuff and I'm sure that comes from [49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan], it comes from the quarterbacks coach, their run game coordinator who does a great job. And I'm sure it comes down to their young coaches having him prepared for the situation."
The Raiders offensive line vs. Nick Bosa
Bosa has been dominant in his fourth season, as he currently leads the league in sacks (17.5) and quarterback hits (42). The speed and power of the defensive end is difficult for a lot of people to block, especially when you add in his versatility to play multiple spots on the defensive line.
Despite how great Bosa has been this season, the Raiders offense line has held their own against some top edge rushers lately. They've held 2023 Pro Bowlers Khalil Mack, Matt Judon and T.J. Watt to no sacks their past three games.
Mick Lombardi vs. DeMeco Ryans
It will be interesting to see the cat-and-mouse game between the Raiders offense and the 49ers defense.
Offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi has played a huge role behind the success of his unit this season. The Silver and Black offense is ranked 12th in the league, touting league leaders in rushing yards and receiving touchdowns with Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams.
According to Lombardi, the Raiders offense will be going up against "probably the best defense we've played all season" this Sunday. The 49ers' fierce defense, helmed by former NFL linebacker DeMeco Ryans, have the No. 1 defense in the league. They've allowed the fewest yards and points to offenses, large in part to the help of 2023 Pro Bowlers Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Talanoa Hufanga.
Additionally, Lombardi was a scout and coach for the 49ers from 2013-16. He credited the organization for giving him the opportunity to settle into the NFL and learn more about coaching.
"Coach [DeMeco] Ryans, obviously took over for Coach [Robert] Saleh back in 2021 and he's really done a phenomenal job in terms of teaching fundamentals," said Lombardi. "They're fundamentally sound, they play fast, they play hard. Their effort is one of the best in the league and I think it shows up in situational football. They're top in the league in pretty much almost every category. I mean, the scheme, it is what it is, they play a certain number of things, but they play it well and they make sure they're all connected."
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.