2. Bruce Irvin vs. Taylor Lewan
If you love edge play, this game is for you. There are three elite pass rushers and three elite tackles that will be duking it out when the Raiders take on the Titans in Nashville on Sunday. We addressed the battle between Brian Orakpo and Donald Penn earlier. Now it’s time to dive in the Bruce Irvin versus Taylor Lewan matchup.
Irvin is the No. 2 pass rusher for the Raiders. He is an excellent complement to Khalil Mack coming off the blind side. However, Irvin has a tough matchup in a 2016 Pro Bowl left tackle in Lewan. Playing with a bit of a mean streak, Lewan has started 37 of 24 games for the Titans the last two years. PFF gave him an excellent 87.7 grade last season. He has improved every year since being a first-round pick out of Michigan in 2014.
Though he hasn’t been as productive as other pass rushers in the league, Irvin is good for about eight or so sacks annually as a great team’s No. 2 sack artist. If another guy sets him up, Irvin is more than capable of making a game-changing sack. Look for him to do good things in his second year in Ken Norton Jr.’s defense.
Irvin had a solid 81.4 grade last year by PFF. That was his best mark in his five years since entering the league out of West Virginia. Should he have a sack or two on player the caliber of Lewan, can you imagine what that would do for Irvin’s confidence the rest of the way? Lewan might have the upper hand in this battle, but it’s one where Irvin will definitely be excited to compete in.