Can Chargers Offense Handle Raiders Defense Tonight?

Las Vegas Raiders enter tonight’s  contest against the Los Angeles Chargers with sole possession of first place on the line. Standing between them, a Chargers team, poised to make a push of their own. 

Justin Herbert… the truth?

The Chargers are riding high after a 30-24 victory, on the road, over the AFC West resident boogieman. Defeating the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, full of fans, is no small task. Quarterback Justin Herbert was electric. Throwing lightning strike after strike down from Mt. Olympus, four touchdowns later, and now Herbert is the king of all he sees.

Herbert’s yardage looks amazing. He’s getting the ball out quickly, his accuracy numbers make him the top gun in the NFL. He’s thrown the sixth most passes at 126 and tied for second-most completed passes 88. Short of that, his numbers are really middle of the pack.

Herbert’s 69.8 completion percentage, 14th in the league, is heavily skewed by the 10 drops. A QBR of 55.3 and overall rating of 97.8 places him 17th and 18th, respectively. His 956 yards through three games have been a result of him torching the 2nd, 4th, and 6th worst passing defenses in the league. Against the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys, two teams who have collectively surrendered 19 touchdowns through the air, he amassed two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Lightning but no thunder

As a whole, the Chargers are ranked 31st in rushing and 32nd in rushing touchdowns. With a rushing attack done by committee, the Chargers are averaging a paltry 87.3 yards per game.

The lead back, Austin Ekeler, is more of a Swiss army knife than a meat grinder. While he may be averaging 4.7 yards per carry, he’s only averaging 55.3 yards and 11.7 attempts per game. On the season, he has 166 of the team’s 262 total rushing yards. Nevertheless, he has a larger impact on the passing game. Ekeler is the third leading receiver with 15 catches, 113 yards, and one touchdown.

Larry Rountree and Justin Jackson have contributed 29 and 26 yards individually, and no touchdowns collectively. Posing virtually no threat at all, the Chargers are taking on the best defense they’ve seen all season.

Beware of Bradley’s Bunch For The Raiders

Gus Bradley can’t get enough credit for the turnaround this Raiders team has had on defense, the Raiders have not allowed a 300 yard passer or a 100 yard rusher. Both he and Ron Milus have worked together, producing a coverage unit which is first in touchdowns allowed and 14th in passing yardage allowed.

Prior to tonights game, against the run, the Raiders are the eighth ranked rushing defense in yardage. Overall, the Raiders are playing running backs well. But, they have allowed an astonishing 123 of the 361 total rushing yards to quarterbacks.

The pass rush has fallen a couple of spots down to the fifth best in the league. The Raiders have 34 total pressures in three games and pressure quarterbacks on 24.6% of their passing attempts, despite only blitzing 13 times, which is second-least overall. They have knocked down the quarterback 15 times and are doing it all primarily with the front four and a versatile rotation.

The Chargers have a lot of proving of themselves to do. This Raiders defense, one they are very familiar with, will be the best defense they have faced by far. They are the ones who should be gearing up for a heavyweight fight. In order to beat the Raiders, they are going to have to increase their scoring output of 20 points per game against a defense which is better than any they have faced.

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