The Raiders head to Buffalo looking to prove their win in the season opener was no fluke and they’re for real, while the Bills look to bounce back after an overtime loss to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Despite the records, DraftKings Sportsbook still has Las Vegas as more than a touchdown underdog.
So, winning the three key matchups listed below will go a long way toward the Silver and Black pulling off the upset.
1) Davante Adams vs. Tre’Davious White
For the second week in a row, Davante Adams faces a former All-Pro cornerback. Granted, Tre’Davious White has suffered injuries over the last couple of seasons and isn’t quite what he used to be, but make no mistake about it, White is still a good corner.
He only played in eight games a year ago (including playoffs) and still managed to force eight incompletions at a 19 percent rate which ranked tied for 13th at his position, per Pro Football Focus. Also, he allowed a completion once every 11.6 coverage snaps and a little less than 35 yards per game in 2022, and he yielded three receptions for 13 yards on Monday Night. Clearly, he can still play.
Of course, Adams is no slouch either as his six catches for 66 yards in Week 1 were considered a “down game” for him, yet he still was efficient with 2.28 yards per route run which was good enough to finish in the top 20 among wideouts for the week. Not bad considering Patrick Surtain II shadowed him for the majority of the afternoon.
However, with Jakobi Meyers in concussion protocol and currently questionable for this week, the Raiders are going to need Adams to be on top of his game. Meyers and Jacobs were the only other players to catch more than one pass in Denver, so Las Vegas will likely lean heavily on their No. 1 wideout to move the ball down the field.
2) Raiders CBs vs. Stefon Diggs
I’m sure everyone reading this knows Stefon Diggs is one of the best receivers in the NFL and a key part of Buffalo’s offense as he’s had at least 1,000 yards and six touchdowns every year since 2018. He maintained that pace in Week 1 with 10 catches, 102 yards and a score, and a big reason why he’s such a tough cover is he lines up in multiple different spots.
For example, Diggs took 28 snaps as a slot receiver and 29 out wide on Monday, according to PFF, and his splits between the left and right sides are pretty close to down the middle, too. Meanwhile, the Raiders kept their outside cornerbacks on one side of the field last week with Marcus Peters on the left and Jarkoian Bennett on the right while Nate Hobbs was in the slot.
That means it’s going to take a full-fledged effort from the Silver and Black’s secondary to keep Diggs in check.
Peters certainly has the highest pedigree of the group and has a knack for creating turnovers, which could certainly play a factor with Josh Allen at quarterback, who has thrown 17 interceptions in his last 17 regular season games. But Peters did give up four catches on five targets for 42 yards last Sunday, so he’ll need to step up a bit this time around.
As for the rookie, the Broncos picked on Bennett early in the game as he surrendered four catches for 39 yards and drew a couple of penalties in coverage after getting beat. I’d expect the Bills to deploy a similar strategy with Diggs on Sunday, meaning Bennett will likely be tested once again.
Hobbs, on the other hand, was very impressive in Denver yielding just 21 receiving yards and coming up with a couple of big tackles that led to three defensive stops in coverage. Given that, Diggs’ day will most likely be spent near the boundary putting more onus on Peters and Bennett this weekend.
3) Jermaine Eluemunor vs. Greg Rousseau
To be honest, Buffalo has a plethora of talent on their defensive line that will require Las Vegas’ entire offensive line to bring their ‘A-game’. But Greg Rousseau might be the most complete player of the bunch who arguably poses the biggest threat.
During the regular season last year, Rousseau posted a 16.6 percent win rate as a pass-rusher that led the Bills’ defensive line—including Von Miller—and ranked in the top 15 among the league’s edge rushers, per PFF. In addition to that, he averaged over three pressures per game.
The three-year veteran is also coming off an impressive showing against the run. His 90.7 PFF run defense grade in Week 1 was the highest mark of any edge defender by over five points, and he managed to record a forced fumble on a tackle for loss versus the Jets.
In other words, Rousseau can impact the game in multiple ways. But the good news for the Raiders is they have a pretty good counter in Jermaine Eluemunor.
Eluemunor was one of the league’s best tackles in pass protection last season and pitched a shutout with zero pressures surrendered in the 2023 season opener. He also managed to record a respectable 66.8 PFF run-blocking grade last Sunday, which ranked just outside of the top 20 among offensive tackles for the week.
So, this should make for a good battle in the trenches in upstate New York.