Oakland Raiders v Jacksonville Jaguars - Key Matchups

David Wilson – Oct 18, 2012

The Oakland Raiders should have won against a very good Falcons team last week, and now play at home against a Jacksonville Jaguars team that has real problems. If Oakland is going to build on last week's improved performance, they have to come away with a win here.

To lose would put the Raiders in a deep hole, and would make them three games back from the division lead. If the last fixture between these two teams is anything to go by, then this will be one hell of a game.

As ever, individual performances will have a big effect on the outcome of the game.

Raiders Offense v Jaguars Defense

The Raiders will try and get their running game going against the 30th ranked run defense in the league.

They saw some progress against the Falcons, and will hope to continue that this Sunday.

RT Willie Smith v DE Jeremy Mincey - Willie Smith has been a nightmare for the Raiders offense in pass protection this year. But there is only one team that has less sacks in the league that the Raiders, and that is the Jaguars. Smith is Oakland’s weak spot here though, and if they are going to leak pressure anywhere, it will be through the right tackle position. The battle for who is ‘least worst’ here will be a factor in this game. To make it interesting, Mincey is the best run defender on the Jags defensive line, whilst Smith actually grades out as well as any Raider in run blocking. This matchup pits weakness against weakness, and strength against strength. Smith has a chance to take a week off from the post-game ’Dud’s list, lets hope he takes it.

WR Denarius Moore v CB Rashean Mathis – Without doubt, the primary receiver that makes the Raiders passing game work is Denarius Moore. Without him there is no genuine deep threat and that shortens the field for opposing defenses. Moore is also real a playmaker, and when the Raiders get the ball to him things happen.  That opens up opportunities for other players and makes the whole offence work better. Jacksonville’s pass defence is ranked 23rd in the league, but Mathis is a competent ten year starter with 30 career interceptions (although only two over the last three years). If the Raiders can protect Palmer and give him time to throw, expect Moore to have a big day. If Mathis can smother Moore one on one, it will make it tough on the Raiders offensively.

Jaguars Offense v Raiders Defense

LT Eugene Monroe v RE Matt Shaughnessy – The only quality player on the Jaguars offensive line is left tackle Eugene Monroe, and he stands out by some way. Raiders right end Matt Shaughnessy has been the Raiders best pass rusher on the defensive line so far this year, and is an absolute beast in the run game. This matchup pits the two best players on each line against each other, which is always a terrific battle. Oakland’s defensive front should push an otherwise poor Jaguars offensive line elsewhere, and unless Monroe can win this battle then the Jacksonville may be completely overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage.  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has made significant progress from his rookie year, but is unlikely to be effective if all he sees in his face is a wall of silver and black. Gabbert is likely to face pressure most of the day, and his left tackle has to least protect his blind side.

WR Justin Blackmon v CB Michael Huff – the cornerback position is an area where the Raiders defense has struggled through the first four games of the season, but things changed last week when safety come emergency cornerback Michael Huff took a big step forward in his play. After looking lost at times in earlier games, Huff was outstanding against a potent Falcons receiving corps with an interception and two passes defended. He needs to continue that form against Jacksonville. Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon were selected with consecutive first round picks in 2011 & 2012, and clearly the Jaguars envision this being an explosive combination. Blackmon was an exceptional college receiver, and has great size and body control that make him a real red zone threat. Oakland’s defense has been more vulnerable to the pass that the running game so far this year, and Blackmon is the danger man for the Jaguars.

Based on their play against Atlanta, you would expect the Raiders to beat the Jaguars, and beat them well, especially at home. Nothing can be taken for granted in the National Football League though, and Jacksonville will also want a win to kick start their season.

I’m betting on the Raiders for this one though…

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