Of all the matchups to be had in this AFC West rivalry game, the one that could be most interesting could be outside of the numbers. Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree was held without a catch in Week 16’s loss to the Eagles. Trying to contain him will be Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward.
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Hayward has become an elite All-Pro level player since arriving in the Chargers organization after the Green Bay Packers let him walk for whatever reason. Crabtree leads the Raiders in touchdown receptions, as his great grabs come in bunches. If Crabtree can find pay dirt a few times, then the Raiders have a chance at the road upset. If Hayward shuts him down, that’s it for the Silver and Black in 2017.
With this Week 17 matchup, it could be even more telling beyond this season. Oakland knows that Hayward stars for a division rival the Raiders will meet twice annually. Crabtree has been a key cog in the Raiders passing game the last few years. Obviously, we want to see them both bring the best out of each other, but it has been overwhelmingly Hayward who has had the better season.
Outside of that thrilling one-point victory over the arch rival Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football in Week 7, it has not been a good year in divisional play for Crabtree. Maybe he can put together one of his best games of the season to bring the Raiders to a great upset victory to end the season on a positive note?