Week 4 is here, and your Las Vegas Raiders are 3-0. Next week on Monday night, the 2-1 division-rival Los Angeles Chargers visit the Raiders’ new vacation home: Sofi Stadium.
With both teams starting hot and both quarterbacks putting on clinics, this will undoubtedly be a prime-time game that no football fan can ignore. The division is on the line, and it’s time to discuss what the Raiders must do to win this battle.
Win in the trenches…
To the surprise of many, the Raiders’ defensive line has been a bright spot this season. The Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue duo has been stellar from the outset. Also, the resurgence of Solomon Thomas and Darius Philon has been marvelous to watch. On the other side of the ball, however, Las Vegas has not been so lucky. The Silver and Black’s retooled offensive line has looked like a liability thus far. The biggest one being center Andre James.
Yes, it is early, and yes, it has also come at the hands of three great defenses, but the Raiders certainly won’t be getting a break with Joey Bosa, who had ten total pressures versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Las Vegas also has to contend with Linval Joseph and Jerry Tillery on the other side.
Like the Raiders, the Chargers also have a retooled offensive line. Their line, however, has been much better to start the season. That includes rookie Rashawn Slater who has yet to allow a sack and allowed zero pressures against the Chiefs. The Raiders will need to pressure Justin Herbert all night if they want a shot at winning.
Get Darren Waller Involved
Undoubtedly, the Raiders’ pass-offense has looked stunning even when Darren Waller is a non-factor. Despite a Chargers linebacker unit featuring Kenneth Murray, Drue Tranquill, and Kyzir White, there should be good matchup opportunities where Waller can exploit coverages.
The Chargers’ secondary, however, is no joke. Derwin James, Asante Samuel Jr., and Nasir Adderly play with high motors and have been forcing turnovers all year. Derek Carr will have to be extremely careful to avoid mistakes. If Henry Ruggs III can force guys downfield, Waller should have plenty of opportunities in the middle. With no Chris Harris Jr. for the Chargers, Las Vegas should dominate the short game.
Get the run game going
It took a while, but Peyton Barber and the Raiders’ rushing attack came alive in the second half against Miami. The Raiders will most likely have Josh Jacobs back in action this week, and not a moment too soon. The Raiders need to run the ball efficiently against a Charger run defense allowing 5.8 YPC and 170 YPG. While running behind the shaky Vegas O-line is not ideal, the Raiders running backs’ room has survived thus far and should be able to make due against one of the worst units in the league. Running will also help the Raiders dominate the time of possession and keep the explosive Chargers offense off the field. Ultimately, the less the Raiders throw against the monster L.A. secondary, the better, despite how well Derek Carr has been playing.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports