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Five Questions with Silver & Black Pride ahead of Bills home opener vs. Raiders

The new-look Raiders come to town — will be more of the same ol’ same?

Buffalo Bills v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders will face off at Highmark Stadium in a 1 p.m. EDT Week 2 game that marks the Bills’ home opener in front of fans. Week 1 didn’t go Buffalo’s way, with the team falling short thanks to a walk-off punt-return touchdown in overtime. There’s been much to dissect following that loss — and the team and Bills Mafia desperately needs to get past the drama that’s developed, featuring a heavy focus on the play of quarterback Josh Allen.

Perhaps a home game against the Raiders will do the trick. But it would be foolish to think this is going to be an easy matchup for Buffalo. The Raiders have a talented defense, and feature edge rusher Maxx Crosby among others. On offense there’s new-to-Vegas quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who, while a journeyman and perceived game manager at this stage of his career, has reunited with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. Of course, the Bills will have to worry about Garoppolo’s top receiver, Davante Adams, and the game-breaking ability he brings to every play.

Will the Raiders use a similar defensive philosophy to the Jets, and try to limit Josh Allen’s quick-strike game? What can Bills fans expect from the Raiders’ offensive line? Can Vegas make some real noise with Garoppolo this season? What about running back Josh Jacobs? He appeared rusty Week 1. Is Week 2 his get-right moment against a Bills defense that struggled to contain Jets running back Breece Hall early? Who else should Bills fans get to know on the Raiders, and how does a Raiders fan think things will play out Sunday?

We tackled all this and more with Matt Holder of Silver & Black Pride this week. Read on to find out Matt’s thoughts ahead of Buffalo’s home opener against Las Vegas!

1. Josh Allen struggled to make magic happen against the Jets, due to what most believe was impatience and being unwilling to take what the defense was giving him underneath. Do you see the Raiders having the ability to employ similar tactics against Allen — and what do you believe is the defense’s greatest strength?

The Raiders used a bend but don’t break approach against the Broncos, so I imagine they’ll have a similar game plan against Allen and the Bills. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham likes to sit back and play zone coverage as much as possible, meaning he’ll likely force Allen to take layups which isn’t in the quarterback’s nature.

Las Vegas’ biggest strength defensive is Maxx Crosby by far. He can be disruptive as a pass-rusher and run defender, it’s just a matter of if the other 10 players around him show up.

2. Despite what many thought would be a downgrade at QB following the departure of Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo played decent in the team’s Week 1 win. How much of that was due to the play by the offensive line?

The offensive line played really well in pass protection to give Garoppolo time and keep him clean. But Jimmy G still deserves a ton of credit for how well he played as he only threw one ‘bad’ pass all game, the interception in the end zone. He also did a good job of making plays with his legs, picking up first downs while scrambling including the one to seal the win.

3. Garoppolo has an interesting NFL history. He’s always been viewed as talented, though it’s never really manifested itself in prolific production. That’s perhaps due in part to injury, which he’s seen plenty of during his career. Is a reunion with head coach Josh McDaniels just what he needed, and has Raider Nation bought in to the idea of Jimmy G as a long term option?

I don’t think anyone really views Garoppolo as the long-term solution at quarterback, even the Raiders’ front office. That’s why he’s only on a three-year deal, with an out after 2 seasons, and they drafted Aidan O’Connell.

It’s too early to say that the reunion between McDaniels and Garoppolo is just what the doctor ordered. Kyle Shanahan is an excellent coach too, so it’s hard to blame the coaching on Garoppolo’s struggles in San Francisco.

4. Running back Josh Jacobs didn’t have his 2023 coming out party in Week 1. Do you expect a different Jacobs against the Bills?

Jacobs admitted he was still a little rusty last week after missing training camp, and the offensive line was below average in the ground game against Denver. After watching Breece Hall and the Jets tear up the Bills on the ground last week, I definitely think this could be a bounce back game for the reigning rushing champ. Granted, the line still needs to play better but I think Jacobs can get the job done on Sunday.

5. Outside of the biggest names on the team, who are some names for Bills Mafia to keep an eye on from both sides of the ball?

Offensively, I’ll go with Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow didn’t get a target last week but Jakobi Meyers is out with a concussion, so I think Renfrow will see more passes his way this week and he can be dangerous after the catch with how shifty he is.

Defensively, I’m going out on a limb as he hasn’t made a start in his NFL career yet, but defensive end Malcolm Koonce. Koonce was one of the few pass rushers outside of Crosby who could win one-on-one matchups. With Chandler Jones out again, I’m hoping the Buffalo product and New York native has a big game.

6. The Raiders won an important divisional game against a HC/QB tandem a fair amount of people expected would storm out of the gate. Given the current DraftKings Sportsbook spread of -8.5 in favor of the Bills, what do you think is the biggest key to upsetting Vegas and winning on Sunday?

Defensively, keeping the Bills behind schedule so that Allen starts playing hero ball and throwing interceptions. That was something I talked about and explained in more detail on my YouTube channel as one of the keys to the game for the Silver and Black.

Offensively, I’ll put my old-school football coach hat on and say “Run the damn ball!” I think the Bills’ defense is built to stop the pass but, as mentioned above, they’re vulnerable to getting beaten on the ground. Granted, the Raiders will need to play with a lead or keep the game close to make that possible.

My thanks to Matt Holder. You can read my thoughts on this matchup from a Buffalo Bills perspective by following this link — which I’ve also shared on the Buffalo Rumblings homepage.