The Eagles (2-4) are traveling to Las Vegas to face the Raiders (4-2) on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
Here are five matchups to watch:
Right side of Raiders’ OL vs. Eagles D-line
The Raiders used the No. 17 overall pick on Alex Leatherwood out of Alabama and tossed him into the starting lineup at right tackle. But he struggled mightily at that spot and was moved from right tackle to right guard after just four games and replaced him with veteran Brandon Parker, who has arguably been worse.
In fact, according to ProFootballFocus, Leatherwood has been the second-worst offensive tackle in the NFL this season, No. 78 out of 79. The only one worse? Parker. In his two starts at right tackle, Parker has given up 7 pressures and 6 hurries, according to PFF. And it’s not like Leatherwood has moved to right guard and become much better. In his two starts inside, the rookie has given up 5 pressures, 2 hurries, 2 hits and a sack.
So it’ll be up to Josh Sweat and some combination of Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave to get pressure against these guys. This could be a major advantage for the Eagles in this game.
Josh Jacobs vs. Eagles LBs
The Eagles have basically been daring opposing teams to run against them this season and those opposing teams have happily done it. The Eagles have the 28th ranked run defense in the league, having given up 812 yards through six games. But they still only giving up 4.1 yards per attempt, which is 12th in the NFL.
Enter Jacobs, who is averaging just 3.2 yards per attempt this season. That’s the lowest average in the NFL among qualified running backs. He has just 175 yards on 54 carries.
If the Eagles can keep his average low again and get him on the ground even in their Cover 2 defense, then it’ll force the Raiders to put the ball into the air quite a bit. Derek Carr has thrown four interceptions in six games and the Eagles might be able to force him into some more mistakes.
Darren Waller vs. Darius Slay?
The Chiefs obviously have a ton of weapons and when the Eagles faced them in Week 4, guess who Slay covered. Yeah, he was on Travis Kelce. And there might be a reason to give Waller the same treatment in Week 7. You could argue that Slay should be on Henry Ruggs, but maybe the Eagles will try to bracket him with help and ask Slay to take Waller away.
“Fast, on film you can see [Waller] run away from DBs,” Slay said. “He can do whatever he needs to. We have to make sure we’re on him. He’s a big part of their offense. He gets a lot of targets, man. I was watching the Ravens game the other day, shoot, like 17. That’s real, real high. … We gotta be ready for him.”
As bad as the Eagles played in Week 4, Slay actually played very well against Kelce. In that game, Kelce had four catches for 23 yards but none of them came against Slay. The Eagles will have a tough choice in this game with how to use Slay but putting him on Waller is a viable option.
Lane Johnson vs. Maxx Crosby
After missing the last three games because of mental health issues, Johnson is likely returning for this game and will face an edge rusher who is really coming into his own. The 24-year-old Crosby was already off to a good start to his career as a fourth-round pick in 2019, but has taken his game to a new level so far in 2021. Through six games, he already has 5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits.
Crosby is ranked as ProFootballFocus’s top edge player so far in 2021. He leads all NFL edge players with 43 total pressures. Harold Landry is second with 43. And he also leads all edge players with 25 hurries.
Crosby takes a huge majority of his snaps on the left side of the defensive line, which means he’ll be going against Johnson in this game. It should be a fun matchup.
DeVonta Smith vs. Casey Hayward
Hayward is 32 now and is several years removed from his last Pro Bowl season in 2017 with the Chargers, but he’s off to a very good start in his first season with the Raiders. Through six games, he’s PFF’s top-ranked cornerback.
Here’s how Hayward has done against some top competition this season:
Sammy Watkins: 1 target, 0 catches
DeVante Parker: 2 targets, 2 catches, 27 yards
Keenan Allen: 3 targets, 2 catches, 13 yards
Courtland Sutton: 6 targets, 4 catches, 48 yards
In this game, it probably means that Hayward will be stuck on Smith for a lot of this game. It’ll be a nice test for the Eagles’ first-round pick.
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