The Las Vegas Raiders return home to Allegiant Stadium this Sunday to try and pick up their first win of the season.
All of the Raiders' losses have been in tight, hard-fought battles – all determined by less than seven points. It won't get easier for the Silver and Black as one of their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos, are coming into town with their new franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson. The Raiders have looked great at times this season, however, putting together a complete game for 60 minutes is what could be the deciding factor between their first win or their fourth loss.
As for this week's key matchups, let's get into it.
Davante Adams vs. Patrick Surtain II
Davante Adams has a fun matchup on the horizon against a young, emerging superstar cornerback in Patrick Surtain II.
Surtain II, the son of the longtime Dolphins and Chiefs cornerback by the same name, is coming off the heels of a standout rookie campaign after being drafted in the first-round of the 2021 Draft. The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year ended his first NFL season with 14 pass deflections and four interceptions. In the Broncos' Sunday Night Football victory over the 49ers last week, the cornerback didn't allow a reception on the five targets his way.
"Patrick Surtain, obviously, is a very good player in their back end," said Offensive Coordinator Mick Lombardi. "He can change direction, he can play on the ball, he presses elite guys on the perimeter."
It's unlikely that Surtain will be left on an island with Adams, though. The All-Pro receiver has seen double coverage on a large majority of his snaps this season, resulting in a combined 48 yards and seven catches over the past two games.
"I've been getting played like this for awhile now," Adams said after the Titans loss, "and the operation is to figure it out and still be productive at the end of the day."
The Raiders offense vs. the red zone
It's been clear that the Raiders offense can move the ball down the field with the best of them. However, the team and Head Coach Josh McDaniels are looking for more proficiency in the red zone.
Through three weeks, the Raiders are 26th in the league in red zone scoring percentage for touchdowns. The team's red zone offense has been highlighted by Davante Adams, who has caught a red zone touchdown in each of the three contests. The Silver and Black struggled last Sunday with a 33 percent red zone rating, compared to the Titans' 100 percent.
"We're getting down there in the red area, which is a good thing," Lombardi said Tuesday morning. "We've just got to do a better job finishing drives, and I think the balance that we have on offense needs to continue down there. We've got to do a better job executing and then do a better job of putting those players in a position to execute.
"So, when we get down there, we can't fall behind in down distance, can't have any penalties. And then we obviously have to execute the small, little details of that area of the field. Whether that's run or pass, we've got to try to make sure everybody does their job, and we execute the best play possible."
Chandler Jones vs. Russell Wilson
From the NFC West to the AFC West, these two meet again.
No one has sacked Russell Wilson more in his 11-year career than Chandler Jones, with 16.5 recorded sacks.
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is excited to see Jones face Wilson this Sunday, stating the two players are actually good friends off the field. He still remembers Jones' first sack on Wilson in both of their rookie seasons in 2012, when Graham was Jones' defensive line coach in New England. Graham also gave Wilson high praise, considering him one of the best veteran leaders the Raiders defense will compete against this season.
"Russell has a lot of experience of running the offense," the defensive coordinator said. "Truly a check with me quarterback, where he could call the play, get them in and out of plays at the line of scrimmage, and the experience he has with that.
"No different than some of the other veteran quarterbacks, they've seen everything. They've seen you play two-high, they've seen you play single-high and spin to two-high. They've seen all that stuff. So, that's always interesting when you're playing a veteran quarterback like that, especially someone that's played at such a high level."
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 4 matchup against the Denver Broncos.