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1 RAIDERS LT Barry Sims versus Bucs DE Simeon Rice.
Sims is a decent run blocker, but speed rushers like Rice give him trouble (as the Dolphins' Jason Taylor did on Dec. 15). Rice has gone outside in both playoff games and slapped the ball from the quarterback's hand for a fumble. Sims will probably get help.
2 RAIDERS LG Frank Middleton versus Bucs DT Warren Sapp.
Sapp could line up against either guard, but this matchup is more intriguing because, as teammates in Tampa Bay for four seasons, he and Middleton faced each other every day in practice. "Stopping Warren's first move isn't so hard," says Middleton, a crushing 330-pound drive blocker. "It's the next two that he gets you with."
3 RAIDERS RB Charlie Garner versus Bucs OLB Derrick Brooks.
Shifty and elusive, Garner is perfect for Oakland's short passing game, but Brooks, who will probably cover him on his routes out of the backfield, is on a roll. He had outstanding games against the 49ers' Garrison Hearst and the Eagles' Duce Staley.
4 RAIDERS WRs Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and Jerry Porter versus Bucs CBs Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly and Dwight Smith.
Brown and Rice are geniuses in the short-passing game, and Porter stretches the field. Barber, the star of the NFC title game, is excellent in all phases of coverage; Kelly's eight picks tied for the NFL lead; and Smith, who will run with Porter downfield, is one of the league's finest nickelbacks. As good as Tampa Bay's defenders are, I don't believe they'll be able to cope with the craftiness of the Raiders' scheme.
5 RAIDERS CBs Charles Woodson, Tory James and Terrance Shaw versus Bucs WRs
Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell and Joe Jurevicius.