The Las Vegas Raiders head to Cleveland looking to improve their 2020 record to 4-3. To do this, they should take advantage of Henry Ruggs III and his blazing speed, though he’ll be facing Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward.
The Browns should be able to shut down the Raiders’ running game without much trouble. However, their defensive backfield isn’t exactly elite, save for Ward, who is having an excellent year. Meanwhile, the much-heralded first-round pick, Ruggs, is having his own impact on the Silver and Black. While the stat sheet might not show it, Ruggs has helped changed this offense. On the other hand, it’s worrisome that they haven’t gotten the running game going. Once that happens, the Raiders could be on their way to having a scary offense. If that happens, their defense will have to do just ‘enough.’
As far as this week’s game, Ruggs will be relied upon to open things up and spread out the Browns secondary. The Browns defense as a whole has given up 2,017 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns via the air. Tha’s not exactly an upper echelon pass defense, so maybe, Ruggs can finally have a breakout game. According to Pro Football Focus, Ruggs is averaging 26.5 yards per catch, ahead of D.K. Metcalf, who has 21.6. Even though Ruggs has only a few catches, the threat his speed presents will be omnipresent, there’s no doubt Ward will have his hands full.
Can The Raiders Score On CB Denzel Ward?
It’s easier said than done, not to mention that some in Raider Nation might not be too familiar with Ward. In case you are one of those, Ward is leading the AFC with 11 passes defensed in 2020, so there’s that. While flying under the radar, Ward is only giving up a completion percentage of 59.2 to opposing quarterbacks. He is on average, giving up 11.2 yards per completion, but we know what Ruggs is capable of. The Raiders just need that one breakaway catch from Ruggs to go for 40, maybe 50 yards, and possibly score on it to make a difference. A final note, Ward might be having a great year but he is not immune to touchdowns, on his own he has given up four. This is one possible matchup everyone will be watching.
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*Top Photo: Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun