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Five players to watch for during Raiders vs. Rams

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The Raiders look to get back to their winning ways, but who will hold the keys to victory?

Wild Card Round - Oakland Raiders v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last week against the Cardinals, the Raiders had a few bright spots but it was hard to tell how good the team is considering the entire first-team offense and the Raiders’ two key edge rushers were on the sidelines. But this week, most everyone should play. Here are some guys we should keep an eye on in this game.

1) Khalil Mack

Mack was out with an undisclosed injury last week but should get some playing time against the Rams. Los Angeles has a middling offensive line which struggled against Dallas, so Mack should be able to feast. We may actually see the Raiders’ actual starting defensive line in this game.

2) Karl Joseph

Joseph was one of the major bright spots for Oakland last week, as he looked every bit as good as he did when he was a young star at West By God Virginia. Joseph hits like a truck, but his coverage skills will also be vital against the Rams’ wideouts who are better than you might think. Cooper Kupp is going to be a serious problem, but Joseph could be the solution.

3) Marshawn Lynch

By all accounts, Lynch is going to play on Saturday. His hype is through the roof and we’ll finally get our first look at Beast Mode in an actual game as a Raider. Will he look like his old self? Or will be look like a has-been, vaulting Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington up fantasy draft boards? Every report from practice has been bullish on Lynch, so hopefully Lynch will be able to carry the load.

4) Eddie Vanderdoes

In the game against Arizona, we all saw that Eddie Vanderdoes whatever he Vanderpleases. He was strong against the run and showed exceptional power and took on multiple blockers. He needs to work on his technique, but his hand strength was top-notch and he looked every bit the first-round pick he was once projected to be. Against the Rams, he should be asked to provide more pressure and command the double-team in order to free up Mack and Irvin. How those three, and Justin Ellis, work together will be vital to this team’s success.

5) Jared Cook

Clive Walford led the Raiders in receiving last week, but he isn’t the best tight end on the Raiders roster. Cook has a chance to be special in this offense, particularly in the red zone. Oakland has so many weapons that Cook will be a mismatch all day long. Let’s see how Todd Downing’s offense chooses to utilize the big free agent acquisition and whether the Rams will be able to defend him.