Sunday could be the day Raider nation gets the break out, Beast Mode-type game from Marshawn Lynch they've been waiting with baited breath all season to see.
The veteran running back has been held in check through the first 11 weeks not so much by opposing defenses but a lack of touches. The Raiders have run the ball the fewest times in the league (214 attempts), Brandon Brooks Youth Jersey with Lynch accounting for 97 carries, though he's run for 390 yards with a respectable four yards-per-carry average. If not for the Raiders getting torched early in last week's 33-8 loss to the Patriots in Mexico City, the 10-year veteran was on pace for his first 100-yard game as a Raider (11 carries, 67 yards).
Head coach Jack Del Rio said they'll make a concerted effort to get Lynch involved early and often Sunday.
"I'd like to push him and get him a little more," Del Rio told the Mercury News. "Obviously, that's a matter of us doing things that I spoke to earlier in the week with getting the possessions offensively, converting on third down which allows more possession, more snaps and opportunities. That's a big part of it."
They'll Brandon Graham Youth Jersey look to be more efficient against a Broncos defense that only allows 3.3 yards per carry and might've regained its footing last week holding the Bengals to 190 total yards in a 20-17 win.
The Raiders' offensive line will need to find some consistency if their Lynch-heavy game plan will be successful. It doesn't help that right guard Gabe Jackson is battling an ankle injury that kept him out of practice all week and has him listed as questionable for the game.
Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing points to the Dolphins game in Week 9 as a sample of how explosive Lynch can still be when he's running with his trademark violent style. He finished that game with 57 rushing yards, including his a 22-yard scamper for a touchdown.
"We were Brent Celek Youth Jersey trying to get him rocking and rolling," Downing said, adding, "I'm pleased with where he's at. Hoping to be able to feed him a little bit more."
The Raiders have seemingly saved Lynch for the stretch run with the playoffs in mind, and if they want to stay in the hunt, it's time to let Beast Mode run free.When the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars square off Sunday, a battle for hometown bragging rights will be taking place between Tyrann Mathieu and Leonard Fournette.
"It's going to be pretty fun for me," Mathieu told Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website. "I come from the same neighborhood but I never had a chance to play with him. It was always, 'What if those two played against each other?'"
That day will come Sunday, Brian Dawkins Youth Jersey so long as Fournette is healthy. The Jaguars first-round pick has been limited in practice all week with an ankle injury he's long dealt with, and that kept him out Week 7 against the Colts.
The rivalry is not a bitter one, as the two New Orleans natives are admittedly close friends. One could even say the elder Mathieu -- by three years -- set the football path that the younger Fournette followed to the NFL. They're both graduates of St. Augustine High School in the city's Seventh Ward, and they each enjoyed college football superstardom at LSU before entering the pro ranks.
"When Tyrann made it, he kind of made it a reality for everybody that's from New Orleans to make it to the league," Fournette told the Cardinals' official website before the draft.
It's not likely their friendship will prevent the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Fournette from lowering his shoulder on the 5-foot-9, 186-pound Mathieu given the chance.
The Honey Badger, on the flip side, plans to use their history to his advantage.
"I'm probably going to try and get in his head, but he's level-headed for the most part," Mathieu said. "He doesn't really get into it like that. But I know if I get under his skin, he's going to give me something back."
Fournette will look to help his Jaguars extend their winning streak to five games and create distance for themselves in the AFC South with the Titans sitting a game back. If that's going to happen, it'll likely be a busy day for Fournette who ranks third in the league in carries per game (21.9) and second in rushing yards per game (92.5).
Mathieu understands what his defense is in for.
"I know he'll give us his best shot and I know he'll get the ball 40 times. That's 40 times we've got to put our big-boy pads on."
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