The ultimate question for the 2023 Las Vegas Raiders is how they’ll bounce back from adversity.
Standing at 1-1 following a 38-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Silver and Black are gearing up for their home opener in Allegiant Stadium. In order to get a win, they’ll have to go through a Pittsburgh Steelers team coming off a Week 2 victory against the Cleveland Browns.
Here are three key matchups heading into a physical battle inside Allegiant Stadium.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Kenny Pickett
As the two teams match up pretty evenly on paper, it’s expected to be a close contest. When things get tough, which quarterback will step up for their team?
Jimmy Garoppolo notched his 41st career win as a starter Week 1 against the Broncos. With a 42nd win, it will be the third most in the NFL for a quarterback since he entered the league in 2014, trailing only Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Despite a 3:3 touchdown-interception ratio through two games, Garoppolo completed 72 percent of his passes and has yet to be sacked.
On the other hand, Kenny Pickett has been sacked seven times this season, with two touchdowns and a 60.5 completion percentage. While Pickett has had some up and down moments in his young NFL career, he’s won seven out of his last nine career starts.
When looking at the numbers, both quarterbacks have proved they can get the job done late in games, which could definitely determine the outcome.
Josh Jacobs vs. Steelers run defense
Going into their third game of the season, the Raiders offense has yet to get their run attack clicking. Following a 2022 season with Josh Jacobs leading the team in rushing yards, he ran for 48 yards against the Broncos and negative two yards against the Bills.
This seems like the perfect time for the Raiders to get out of their ground game funk. Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed the most rushing yards to opposing offenses so far this season. Additionally, their All-Pro defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was placed on IR with a groin injury after Week 1.
It won’t be easy though, as the Steelers’ front seven still has superstar talent in 2021 Defensive Player of Year T.J. Watt and reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week Alex Highsmith. Nevertheless, Jacobs and the Raiders offensive line must try to capitalize in a big way.
Davante Adams vs. Patrick Peterson
Both Davante Adams and Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson can argue they were the best player in the league at their position at some point in their career.
Adams has been on a tear the past few years, leading the league in touchdown receptions in 2022 and the fourth-most touchdown receptions in history within a receiver’s first 10 NFL seasons. He’ll be lining up against Peterson, who’s totaled a career 34 interceptions and 114 pass deflections. The eight-time Pro Bowler can still go at 33 years old, with three pass deflections so far this season.
Garoppolo and Adams’ chemistry seems to be trending in the right direction, connecting with each other for six catches, 84 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo. The progress will have to carry over against Peterson and the rest of the Steelers secondary.
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