If you ask old school scouts what is required to field a championship contender, they will quickly tell you that it takes eight to twelve blue-chip players to compete for a title. This premise has been the standard for general managers around the league and I rely on it to help me identify the players to watch on game day.
With that in mind, I thought I would take a little time to identify the players to watch on the Cowboys' next opponent. Here are the current Raiders blue-chips players:
Derek Carr, QB: The streaky quarterback was in the MVP discussion earlier this season before cooling off in recent weeks. Carr has the arm talent and diagnostic skills to pick apart defenses with precise throws if he is given sufficient time in the pocket. With a solid crew of pass-catchers around him, Carr is always a threat to put up a 300-yard game and light up the scoreboard as a gunslinger with unwavering confidence in his abilities.
Josh Jacobs, RB: Injuries have slowed down the Raiders' RB1, but he remains a dangerous playmaker out of the backfield. The stocky runner has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume and he is capable of churning out 100-yard games when he gets into a rhythm early in the game.
Darren Waller, TE: The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder is a super-sized wide receiver masquerading as a tight end on the perimeter. Waller's unique size-speed combination overwhelms most defenders in space and the Raiders will create mismatches by deploying the Pro Bowler all over the field. If the Cowboys do not have a plan for neutralizing No.83, the Raiders' No.1 playmaker could go put up big numbers on Turkey Day.
Bryan Edwards, WR: The unheralded pass-catcher has emerged as one of the Raiders' primary big-play threat. Edwards is averaging 20-plus yards per catch while exhibiting polished route-running skills and sticky hands as a big-bodied playmaker on the perimeter.
Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE: The ultra-explosive pass rusher is a dynamic defender with exceptional first-step quickness and burst. Ngakoue leads the Raiders with seven sacks and a pair of forced fumbles that showcase his disruptive potential as an edge rusher. With the veteran regaining his all-star form, the Cowboys need to pay close attention to Ngakoue's whereabouts at all times.
Maxx Crosby, EDGE: The energetic edge defender wears opponents out with his non-stop motor and power-based game. Crosby whips blockers with a variety of karate maneuvers that make him a nightmare to deal with on the edges. The Cowboys better have a plan for dealing with No.98's energy or he will wreck their holiday party with his disruptive skills.
Denzel Perryman, LB: The tackling machine has become a valuable member of the defense due to his diagnostic skills and communication ability. As the Raiders' traffic cop, Perryman gets everyone on the same page while making most of the tackles between the tackle-to-tackle box. Although he is not a headliner on the national scene, the veteran's ability to control the middle of the field is critical against a Cowboys' team that wants to ground and pound at the end of games.