Things won’t get easier for the Raiders coming off their Week 1 victory.
After scratching and clawing to a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos, the squad is back on the road this Sunday to face the Buffalo Bills. While the Bills are coming off a short week following an overtime loss to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, they went undefeated at home during the 2022 season.
Here are three key matchups to follow heading into Buffalo.
Marcus Peters vs. Stefon Diggs
This matchup could very well determine the outcome of the game considering how integral Stefon Diggs is to Buffalo’s offense.
The 2022 Second-Team All-Pro is Josh Allen’s main weapon, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns every season since he was traded from the Vikings in 2020. To no surprise, he led the Bills in all of those categories Monday night with 10 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Receivers at the caliber of Diggs are the reason the Raiders signed Marcus Peters this offseason. Peters has a reputation of being a ballhawk in this league, with 32 career interceptions and 54 pass breakups. From what we saw in Denver, the Raiders trust Peters to cover the opposing WR1 on the outside. The same should be expected in Buffalo as Peters prepares to line up against Diggs.
Peters has historically found success against Diggs, allowing an average of under two catches and 20 receiving yards a game when he’s been the targeted defender on the receiver.
The Raiders defensive line vs. Josh Allen
Josh Allen as a dual-threat quarterback is a walking highlight reel.
The Bills’ 2018 first-round pick led them to 13 wins in 2022 with nearly 4,300 passing yards, nearly 800 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns. His throwing power, athleticism and 6-foot-5, 237-pound frame make for a tough matchup on the road.
“He’s a challenge for everybody,” Josh McDaniels said Wednesday morning. “This is one of the premier players in our league. I’ve obviously had an opportunity to compete against him a number of times. He’s an incredible competitor, really tough football player. He’s a football player, he’s not just a quarterback.
“He can hurt you with his mind. He can hurt you with his arm. He can hurt you with his legs. He can hurt you with his shoulder – dropping his shoulder and running through people. Wants the ball in his hands in all the ‘gotta have it’ situations. Just does a tremendous job of leading their football team. He’s a really good leader and obviously they play hard for him.”
In order to slow down Allen, the Raiders will have to apply pressure and force him to make bad decisions. The Jets defense sacked Allen five times with 23 hurries, picking him off three times in the process. The Silver and Black can raise their chances of success if they can replicate even half of that type of production.
Greg Van Roten vs. Ed Oliver
After spending a season with Bills, Greg Van Roten has emerged as the Raiders starting right guard to begin the season.
The ability and veteran presence the 33-year-old brings to the offensive line has been on full display since Training Camp. After winning the starting job, he helped keep Jimmy Garoppolo clean in the pocket Week 1, with no sacks allowed from the unit. Van Roten was also the Raiders’ highest graded offensive lineman (75.6) by Pro Football Focus.
“I thought they pass protected very well. … No sacks in the game is obviously always a goal heading into it,” offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said. “Credit to all those guys for keeping it firm and cleaning out the pocket when they could and trying to play physical against a good front in Denver. Very pleased with the way they pass protected.”
Van Roten will be a vital piece for the Silver and Black, going against a defense that surrendered the least amount of yardage to opposing offenses (min. 16 games) in 2022. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver leads the charge in the Bills’ interior pass rush, with 2.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and 14 quarterback hits last season. He had five total tackles and half a sack against the Jets.
While this might not be the flashiest matchup to highlight, it could play a deciding factor in how productive Garoppolo and running back Josh Jacobs are against a stingy Bills defense.
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