The Oakland Raiders seem to be the premiere young team in the NFL. After more than a decade of being comparable to the Browns, the Raiders have been on the upswing since drafting Khalil Mack and Derek Carr in 2014. As it stands now, they are 1st in the AFC West, with a record of 4-2 overall.
This matchup is an intriguing one, especially because Carr has undoubtedly had a better start to his career than Bortles has, despite being drafted a round after Bortles. Another reason this matchup is intriguing is that the Raiders are exactly the team that Jacksonville wants to be. The only difference between the two teams is the win total.
There are two keys to this game that Oakland will have to adhere to in order to get a win over the Jaguars, the first of which is to protect Carr. Jacksonville has a talented defense and finally, after long years of not having one, have built a pass rush. Ngakoue and Fowler Jr. have been a welcome surprise for this Jaguar team. With that said, the Raiders have one of the better offensive lines in football right now. The longer Jacksonville's pass rush is present in the game, the longer Jacksonville itself is in the game, as seen last week when the Bears couldn't close the Jaguars out in large part thanks to the defense. If Oakland can keep Carr protected, they'll be better suited to utilizing their explosive offense.
The Raiders aren't the Bears. They can score a lot of points quick, fast, and in a hurry to such a degree that it would be really hard for the Jaguars to come back from late in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars have absolutely zero capability to run the ball, for seemingly unknown reasons. With Jacksonville unable to get anything going on the ground, the Raiders will be free to play the pass however they like, whether or not the choose to drop everyone back in coverage or put pressure on Bortles. Going into this game, the Raiders mindset on defense has to be that the Jaguars are incredibly one sided on offense and they'll be looking to exploit that.
The Raiders are everything the Jaguars want to be. They're experiencing the success the Jaguars want to have, their quarterback is displaying that he is the Oakland qb of the future that the Jaguars are hoping Bortles turns out to be. Maybe the Jaguars could end up like the Raiders and experience their own amount of success following a long stretch of heartache. Either way, they'll have to win this game.