4 key matchups the Eagles must win to beat the Raiders
Vegas, baby, Vegas. After a rough couple weeks for the Raiders franchise, the Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town on extended rest after last Thursday night’s loss to the Buccaneers. Hopefully the mini-bye week allowed some extra time for head coach Nick Sirianni to prepare and possibly scheme up a couple of running plays to throw into the mix? Regardless, two inept rushing attacks go head-to-head on Sunday. There are some key matchups that the Eagles must win or take advantage of to beat the Raiders and their 1-0 interim head coach, Rich Bisaccia.
Before we dive into the matchups, I would be stupid to skip over the fact that The Liberty Line is partnering with our friends over at Pickup to give away TWO CROSSNETS ($150 value). There’s no possible way you can go down the shore next summer without a Crossnet and now is your chance to win one. We aren’t asking for you to do anything besides make your pick on the Eagles-Raiders game below and VERIFY your pick for a chance to win. The entire process takes 30 seconds and you’re in.
MAKE SURE YOU VERIFY YOUR PICK. And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post. 4 key matchups the Eagles must win to beat the Raiders.
Trench Warfare: Maxx Crosby vs. Jordan Mailata or Lane Johnson
The Raiders fourth-round pick in 2019 exploded onto the scene as a true game-wrecker off the edge. Crosby mostly lurks on the left side of the defensive line, which means battling Jordan Mailata or potentially Lane Johnson for a majority of the game. This season, the 6-5, 255-pound bulldozer is playing like one of the top edge rushers in the entire league.
- 43 total pressures (1st in NFL)
- 25 QB Hurries (1st in NFL)
- 11 QB Hits (1st in NFL)
- 27.6% Win Rate (1st in NFL)
- 92.2 PFF pass-rush grade (1st in NFL)
Mailata already faces challenges with his switch to right tackle just after learning the ins and outs of playing on the left side. Facing Crosby will be an extreme test for the newly inked Eagles lineman. Despite not playing his usual position, this matchup should be a good “measuring stick” game to see how well the former Rugby player stacks up against the premier pass rusher in the NFL right now. Lane Johnson was limited today in practice and could return before this Sunday but that is still up in the air.
Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell vs. Raiders’ LBs
This year, Las Vegas’ boasts a top ten passing defense in terms of yards allowed per game with a mixture of young talent and veteran leaders. However, with injuries to Trayvon Mullen and his backup Damon Arnette, the Raiders suddenly became vulnerable at the corner spot opposite of Casey Heyward Jr. For once, I would love to let DeVonta Smith cook one of these defensive backs for an entire game. Still, there may be a game plan that fits Sirianni’s offensive philosophy of capitalizing on mismatches.
Raiders linebackers Cory Littleton and Denzel Perryman have been torched all season long. Combined, they have allowed 52 receptions on 62 targets (83.87% completion rate) for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Anytime these linebackers have to cover Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, or Kenneth Gainwell, they must be exploited.
Raiders’ Run Defense vs. Nick Sirianni’s Stubbornness
Running the ball seems something only a fool would ask of Nick Sirianni right now, but Las Vegas is allowing 130.7 yards on the ground (25th in NFL). Over their last three games, the Raiders have given up 141 rushing yards per game and could be without their 6-3, 340-pound gap clogger, Johnathan Hankins, who’s dealing with a hip injury. The Chargers, possibly the only team with a worse rushing attack than the Birds, managed to gash the Raiders for their best rushing performance of the year.
The ingredients and recipe are there for Nick Sirianni to rid himself of that awful anti-run the ball stigma. Las Vegas has a decent secondary and excellent pass rush but remains very vulnerable against the rush, especially with Hankins out. An effective way to mitigate Maxx Crosby’s impact on the game would be for the Eagles to run the ball against that porous front seven and limit his amount of pass rush opportunities.
Darren Waller vs. an Eagles’ Bracket Defense
Darren Waller lined up one-on-one against an Eagles linebackers is already giving me nightmares. This year, the Eagles secondary is playing above expectations, with Darius Slay remaining his elite self and Avonte Maddox thriving in the slot. Henry Ruggs’ over-the-top speed is a constant concern, but McLeod’s return should help limit some of the big plays that the Raiders rely upon weekly.
I am comfortable with the Eagles cornerback matchups with the Raiders wide receivers on most man-to-man sets. If Maddox were to guard Waller one-on-one, the 6-6, 256-pound tight end would use that size advantage all afternoon. Instead of playing his patented Cover 2, Johnathan Gannon should use a bracket approach with Anthony Harris and a linebacker on Darren Waller to limit the amount of damage he can do against the worst coverage linebackers in the NFL.
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