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Key Matchups: Raiders vs Jaguars

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The Jaguars don't have a lot of players on their team that strike fear into their opponents these days. But the Raiders must be on their toes to keep the Jags from sneaking up on them. After all, the Raiders haven't exactly proven themselves to be a team to be reckoned with this season either.

Chris Prosinski with a low blow on Jaguar teammate Paul Posluszny
Chris Prosinski with a low blow on Jaguar teammate Paul Posluszny

Rolando McClain vs Maurice Jones-Drew

The single biggest threat on this Jaguars team is Maurice Jones-Drew. And the man put in charge of stopping him will be Rolando McClain. The Raiders last week began taking McClain out of the game in their nickel package and against the Falcons, they played nickel 60% of the game. Against the Jaguars, however, there isn't the same threat in the passing game. This means McClain should see plenty of snaps this week. After Friday's practice, Dennis Allen was asked about MJD's small stature to which he said "He's short but not tiny". This 5-8 back is a tall order for any prospective tackler and that's after they find him. He can hide very well behind his big linemen and come squirting through. The Jaguars have one win on the season and that day they had about as many rushing yards (185) as they have had in their last three losses combined (194). Of those 185 yards, 177 were Jones-Drew. He is undoubtedly the key to that offense.

Darren McFadden vs Paul Posluszny

Just as the Raiders middle linebacker must stop the Jaguars star running back, the Jaguars middle linebacker must stop the Raiders star running back. Both the Raiders and Jaguars have one win on the season and in both cases, it was because the running game came to life. The Raiders' running game has actually been worse than the Jaguars in their four losses. The Jaguars have the worst defense in the NFL and give up 163 rushing yards per game. Posluszny is the leading tackler for the Jaguars so in those great many times the opposing running back gets through the line, it's him that is there to stop them.

Matt Shaughnessy vs Eugene Monroe

Shaughnessy is the Raiders' leader in sacks thus far this season. He has 2.5 of the four total team sacks. One of the main reasons the Raiders have lost games this season has been the lack of a pass rush. Eugene Monroe is the Jaguars' best offensive lineman so this will be quite a battle. The Raiders will be putting a lot of focus on stopping Maurice Jones-Drew and leaving it up to Blaine Gabbert to try and beat them. Gabbert has been a disappointment to be certain but any quarterback given enough time in the pocket can't rise above expectations. Shaughnessy will also be charged with sealing the edge because Gabbert has good mobility when protection breaks down.

Carson Palmer vs Chris Prosinski

Chris who? Prosinski (the "ball hawk" seen above) will be replacing Jaguars starting safety Dwight Lowery who has been ruled out of this game with an ankle injury. As weak as the Jaguars' secondary is, they cannot afford to lose Lowery. Prosinski will be the last line of defense in many instances and the Raiders will test him on several occasions with speedsters Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. Palmer must look off Prosinski and fellow safety Lawan Landry and find his receivers long. Prosinski will also be put up against Darren McFadden and the Raiders' tight ends in the receiving game and you can bet Palmer will be looking for the mismatch and exploit it at every opportunity.