The Patriots will continue their playoff run on Sunday when they face 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 suggests.
With that in mind, here are seven Raiders players to watch for when they host the Patriots on Sunday.
When compiling any list like this, Adams must be included.
Adams posted 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 has also struggled a bit lately. He has at least 120 receiving yards in four of the Raiders’ last six games, and has also recorded seven touchdowns over that stretch.
Because he played with the Packers for the first eight seasons of his career, Adams doesn’t have much experience facing the Patriots. In his last game against them, he caught six passes for 40 yards with a touchdown in what ended up being a Patriots victory.
However, Adams was reportedly the star of the joint practice between the Patriots and Raiders in August. The five-time Pro Bowler reportedly made a lot of big catches against the Patriots’ secondary, most notably with the touchdown grab 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 on Sunday.
One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the Raiders running back.
After McDaniels and Co. declined the fifth-year option on 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 ranks third in rushing touchdowns (11) while rushing at an efficient 5.2 yards per carry.
Like Adams, Jacobs has started to play better of late as well. After a 109-yard performance in an overtime win over the Broncos in Week 10, Jacobs turned in 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 before 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 have the 12th-best rush defense and the 10th-best rush-defensive DVOA.
The defensive end has been a consistent strength for the Raiders in recent seasons, and this year has been no different.
Crosby has recorded 11.5 sacks this season, the fifth most in the league entering Week 15. Not only has Crosby gotten a lot to the quarterback, but he has also been able to get the ball out of opposing players’ hands. He has forced three fumbles, which is tied for second most in the league.
Crosby’s brings the whole package. He is also strong as a run stopper, and has recorded 49 stops this season, the fourth most in the league.
Crosby usually lines up on the left side of the defensive line, which means he will go up against the right side of the Patriots’ offensive line.
It’s a big mismatch that favors the Raiders as right tackle is arguably the Patriots’ weakest position this season. Isaiah Wynn has struggled 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. However, none of them have been more consistent than the veteran safety.
Harmon has played all over the field this season for the Raiders. In Week 7, he recorded a pick-6 against the Texans. He has also recorded a pair of forced fumbles, including in Week 13 against the Chargers when he knocked the ball out of star running back Austin Ekeler’s hand to help the Raiders with 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 a concern for the Patriots if they have to play against their two rookies.
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 during the offseason, had just one sack and had five games with just one pressure through the first 11 weeks of the season.
Jones has turned it on in recent weeks. He recorded eight pressures against a stout Seahawks offensive line in Week 12. Over the past two weeks, Jones has played against poor offensive lines, recording two sacks against both the Chargers and Rams.
This week gives Jones another prime opportunity to get into the backfield and sack the quarterback who shares his last name. He will likely line up against left tackle Trent Brown, who shared that he lost 12 pounds due to a recent flu. Brown has struggled a bit since coming down with the illness, allowing six pressures and a sack over the past two games.
Like many players in the Raiders’ defense, the linebacker has also improved in recent weeks.
Perryman, along with Crosby, help 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 has also recorded 31 stops, which is slightly less than Crosby per game.
Even with Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris playing, 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 17th best among all-time players smallest. 10 games this season.
The Raiders may have a pair of key pass catchers returning on Sunday in Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, but don’t forget about the sixth-year receiver either.
Hollins has produced in a big way for the Raiders this season, even outscoring Waller and Renfrow in games they played together. He has a career-high 47 receptions for 588 yards with three touchdowns.
Hollins hasn’t had many big performances in recent weeks, although he has shown great upside 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 has played at least 85 percent of the offensive snaps in every game this season, potentially presenting a mismatch in the Raiders’ favor if one of the Patriots’ smaller defenders catches him in pass coverage.
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