The Week 3 matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins is a crucial one for both teams. However, it is especially important for the Raiders. The Raiders, who have once again started the season hot, look to rid their collapsing ways in 2021. Beating the Dolphins at home can push them even further in the right direction. And while many would say the Raiders should easily defeat a banged-up Dolphins team, the Raiders have not been able to beat the teams they should the past two seasons. Is this truly a different Derek Carr this season? Is Jon Gruden ready to be the best coach on the field week in and week out? All those questions will get answered throughout the season. But here are some crucial match-ups in the Raiders Week 3 battle against the Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders Key Matchups for Week 3
The Raiders are 3.5 point favorites versus a Dolphins team that is missing their starting quarterback, however, in the NFL there are no lay-ups. But the Raiders can and need to dominate this game and push their record to 3-0.
Raiders Pass Rush Versus Dolphins Offensive Line
In recent seasons, the Raiders have struggled mightily when rushing the passer. However, through two weeks this season, they are one of the best pass-rushing units in football. The pass-rush has been the main reason Las Vegas is 2-0, and why the defense looks serviceable. A good pass-rush can make a defense look better overall and mask other issues. During the off-season, the Raiders added pieces all over the line, but third-year pro Maxx Crosby has been the star thus far. Crosby leads the league with 16 pressures and the Raiders have wreaked havoc on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in their first two games. And for the first time in recent memory, the Raiders have a semblance of an interior pass-rush.
On the flip-side, Miami has allowed pressure on 52 percent of their offensive plays so far in 2021. If the Raiders can create pressure at will against backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, it will be a good day for the silver and black. If the Raiders can rush Brissett and force him to try to make plays on the run, they may continue to force turnovers and help the offense out, as they have so far this season.
Raiders Young Wide Receivers Versus Good Dolphins Corners
Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards have flip-flopped good weeks thus far. The Raiders are expecting big things from the young duo, and this week they have a huge test. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones will not make it an easy day for Ruggs or Edwards. However, the two young receivers have shown the ability to produce versus top talent. To take the step forward the Raiders would like to see, these players need to be match-up proof. With Ruggs’ speed, he can have a slow day and impact the game on one play. He showed this in Week 2, with a game-changing 61-yard touchdown, where he simply beat Minkah Fitzpatrick deep. Edwards also showed the ability to beat his man in Week 1, with two crucial catches on the final drive of regulation.
While one should not expect a dominating performance from either of the young receivers, a few crucial plays can tilt this game into the win column for the Raiders. Jon Gruden will be doing his best to dial those up.
Jon Gruden Versus Brian Flores
Last season, Brian Flores out-coached Jon Gruden in a thrilling Miami Dolphins win. Gruden looks to get his payback in 2021, and thus far he has been the best coach on the field two weeks in a row. With a banged-up Dolphins team, look for Gruden to be aggressive from the jump. This off-season the Raiders coach talked about putting teams away with a lead and his team ability to do so in Week 2. A crucial part of the week 3 match-up will be not allowing the Dolphins to hang around. The Raiders want to prove they can finish games and the season strong. Look for an aggressive, fired-up Jon Gruden to do what it takes for the Raiders to win this key match-up.