Despite their 5-8 record, the Raiders have multiple stars on each side of the ball.
The Patriots will continue their playoff push on Sunday when they take on the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Coached by former Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Raiders have had a crazy season and many believe their talent is better than their 5-8 record indicates.
With that in mind, here are seven Raiders players to watch for when they host the Patriots on Sunday.
When compiling any sort of list like this, Adams must be included.
Adams put up one of the best two-year stretches for a receiver in NFL history in 2020 and 2021 while playing with the Packers, catching at least 115 passes in both seasons for a combined 2,927 receiving yards and 29 receiving touchdowns.
Even though he’s not catching passes from Aaron Rodgers anymore, Adams is still putting up elite numbers. He has 82 receptions for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, ranking in the top five in each stat, and leads the league in receiving touchdowns.
Adams is on a bit of a tear as of late, too. He has at least 120 receiving yards in four of the Raiders’ last six games, recording seven touchdowns over that stretch, too.
Because he played with the Packers for the first eight seasons of his career, Adams doesn’t have much experience going up against the Patriots. In his last matchup against them, he caught six passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in what ended up being a Patriots win.
Adams, however, was reportedly the star of joint practices between the Patriots and Raiders in August. The five-time Pro Bowler reportedly made numerous big catches against the Patriots’ secondary, particularly making touchdown grabs over corner Jalen Mills.
Adams didn’t play in the preseason game that followed those practices, so we’ll see if he has the same magic come Sunday.
One of the season’s biggest surprises has been the Raiders running back.
After McDaniels and Co. denied the fifth-year option of his contract, Jacobs has had the best season of his four-year career to this point. Jacobs leads the league in rushing yards (1,402) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns (11) while rushing on an efficient 5.2 yards per carry.
Like Adams, Jacobs has started to play better as of late, too. Following a 109-yard performance in an overtime win over the Broncos in Week 10, Jacobs put up a performance for the ages in the Raiders’ overtime win over the Seahawks. He rushed for 229 yards and had 74 receiving yards. He also scored two touchdowns in that game, including an 86-yard touchdown run that won the Raiders the game.
Jacobs put up two more good outings leading into Sunday’s game, rushing for 144 yards against the Chargers and 99 yards against the Rams. He’ll have a decent test ahead of him on Sunday as the Patriots hold the 12th-best rushing defense and the 10th-best rush defensive DVOA.
The defensive end has been a consistent force for the Raiders over the last few seasons, and this year has been no different.
Crosby’s recorded 11.5 sacks this season, the fifth-most in the league entering Week 15. Not only has Crosby gotten to the quarterback a lot, but he’s also been able to get the ball out of opposing players’ hands. He’s forced three fumbles, which is tied for the second-most in the league.
Crosby’s brings the complete package. He’s also strong as a run-stopper, recording 49 stops this season, the fourth-most in the league.
Crosby typically lines up on the left side of the defensive line, which means he’ll go up against the right side of the Patriots’ offensive line.
That’s a major mismatch that advantages the Raiders as right tackle has arguably the Patriots’ weakest position this season. Isaiah Wynn’s been dealing with an injury while backups Conor McDermott and Yodny Cajuste have struggled. McDermott’s allowed five pressures in his two games with the Patriots, while Cajuste has given up three sacks and 12 pressures in four games this season.
There are a handful of former Patriots players on McDaniels’ team. None of them have been more consistent, though, than the veteran safety.
Harmon’s made plays all over the field this season for the Raiders. In Week 7, he recorded a pick-6 against the Texans. He’s also recorded a pair of forced fumbles, including in Week 13 against the Chargers when he punched the ball out of star running back Austin Ekeler’s hand to help set the Raiders up for an easy touchdown drive.
Harmon hasn’t been too strong in pass coverage this season, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 15-of-18 passes for 185 yards. However, he has two interceptions, and his ability to make game-changing plays is still there, which could be worrisome for the Patriots if they have to play their two rookie running backs.
The most notable former Patriots player on the Raiders’ roster didn’t get off to a hot start in Las Vegas.
Jones, who signed a three-year, $51 million contract to join the Raiders over the offseason, only had one sack and had five games with only one pressure through the first 11 weeks of the season.
Jones has turned it on though, in recent weeks. He recorded eight pressures against a strong Seahawks offensive line in Week 12. In the last two weeks, Jones has beaten up on poor offensive line, recording two sacks against both the Chargers and Rams.
This week presents another prime opportunity for Jones to get into the backfield and sack the quarterback who has the same last name as him. He’ll likely line up against left tackle Trent Brown, who shared he lost 12 pounds due to a recent flu. Brown’s struggled a bit since he came down with the illness, allowing six pressures and a sack over the last two games.
Like many players on the Raiders’ defense, the linebacker has also gotten better in recent weeks.
Perryman, along with Crosby, helps solidify a Las Vegas run defense that ranks 10th in yards this season. The veteran linebacker has recorded 70 tackles over 10 games, which is the third-most on the team. But he’s also recorded 31 stops, which is slightly less than Crosby on a per-game basis.
Even if Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris play, Perryman could help negate the Patriots’ backfield a bit, as Pro Football Focus has given him an 83.3 grade in run defense this season, which is the 17th-best among all players that have played at least 10 games this season.
The Raiders could have a pair of key pass-catchers returning on Sunday in Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, but don’t forget the sixth-year receiver, either.
Hollins has produced in a big way for the Raiders this season, even outperforming Waller and Renfrow in games they played in together. He has a career-high 47 receptions for 588 yards with three touchdowns.
Hollins hasn’t had many big performances in recent weeks, though he’s shown a high ceiling at times, at least in terms of production. He had eight receptions for 158 yards against the Titans in Week 3, for example.
If Waller and Renfrow return, you should still expect Hollins to see the field. He’s played at least 85 percent of the offensive snaps in every game this season, potentially presenting a mismatch in favor of the Raiders if one of the Patriots’ lesser defensive backs takes him on in pass coverage.
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