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The Two most important Raiders this weekend are on opposite sides of the ball.

Defensive end Bruce Irvin and tight end Jared Cook.

Irvin will be looking to continue the brilliant form he had coming into the bye last week, as the Raiders line up to play an Indianapolis Colts offense who are averaging 32 points per game in the last month. Despite an excellent performance last week against the Buffalo Bills, the Colts haven’t been able to get the wins together in 2018.

Their record of 2-5 thus far, suggests they aren’t up to scratch this season, but that just isn’t the case. They will be looking to secure their third win against a Raiders team who are in a world of pain at the moment.

This is where Big Bad Bruce Irvin comes in to play.

Irvin is a leader of men and will need to lead from the front if the Raiders are to put the Colts to the sword on Sunday.

Irvin will have his work cut out for him with this week with the Colts expecting to have tight end Jack Doyle back. Running back Marlon Mack is coming off a huge game last week and will cause plenty of headaches for the defense.

Irvin is the Raiders current sack leader with three. Expect that number to rise on Sunday when Andrew Luck and the Colts come to town. A sack can lift a whole team into action and Irvin knows all about that from his time in Seattle. He will help get the crowd involved in the game and the rest is up to the defense to man up and stop the Colts.

Irvin’s numbers this season are ok, but it is not always about the sacks or total tackles, but about the pressure he puts on players. His ability to make quarterbacks throw early, tight ends drop the ball, and running backs turn and run the other way, can change the game in its own right.

He is going to have to have his head on a swivel this week. The Colts offense has a lot of talented players and Irvin needs to stand up and show why he is the badest man on the field.

With the departure of Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys during the week, more emphasis will be placed on tight end Jared Cook.

Cook has seen his fair share of the football this season, along with wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but with Cooper no longer on the team, he will need to step it up even more.

Cook has 32 catches for 400 yards at an average of 12.5, he also has 20 first downs this season, more than every other Raider. He is averaging 66.7 yards a game and has two touchdowns to date.

Expect all those numbers to rise in the coming weeks.

If Jared Cook wants to be a top-five tight end on the league, this is his time to step up and be counted.

Now, more than ever the Raiders need him.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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