For the second time this season, the Las Vegas Raiders will get a crack at the Los Angeles Chargers — this time at home, and hopeful that they can get a different result.
If you remember the last time out, the Raiders trailed 17-3 at halftime but came all the way back with a chance to take the lead in the final four minutes when their defense forced a punt. Unfortunately, Derek Carr and the offense couldn’t capitalize — gaining only one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
Little did we know that this Week 1 defeat would be a sign of things to come for the Raiders, who would lose three of the next four games heading into their by week.
On the Chargers front, things have only gone marginally better. As usual, they could point to a slew of injuries, but at 6-5, they’re in the midst of yet another disappointing season, finding themselves one game out of the playoff picture at the moment.
Interestingly enough, the Raiders actually have a better point differential (-11) than the Chargers (-30) despite the two-game gap in records.
Can the Raiders ride the momentum of back-to-back wins and close that gap to just one, playing spoiler to Los Angeles’s playoff hopes once again? Or will Sunday be Vegas’s wake-up call that the last two weeks have been merely a mirage?
Los Angeles: 29th in points allowed per game, 30th in yards allowed per play, 31st in rush percentage
When I look at the season the Chargers have had, it feels familiar: put the game on the shoulder of Justin Herbert and hope for the best. Despite being a defensive coach originally, Brandon Staley’s crew has been unable to create much resistance on that side of the ball — actually faring worse than the Raiders this season. It’s funny to look back at the first matchup to see how low scoring it was, only because I have a feeling round two might end up with nearly twice as many points scored.
One thing that worries me about the Raiders is the rush percentage number. If there’s one thing the Raiders’ defense can hang their hat on, it’s that they’ve been okay at stopping the run (12th in yards per rush allowed) — and yet the Chargers run it less than just about anyone. That’s bad news for a Raiders defense that is 29th in yards per pass allowed.
Las Vegas: 24th in rush percentage, 4th in yards per rush
This will be a huge talking point after what Josh Jacobs did last week, but with a back as good as Jacobs — and an offensive line that is much better at run-blocking than pass-blocking. Why run so rarely when you have been so efficient?
And yet, with Josh Jacobs reportedly skipping practice this week in hopes of being ready for Sunday, maybe the status quo remains in place for another week.
Los Angeles: Keenan Allen
Back after a lengthy stint on the IR, Allen is going to be looking for redemption following a disappointing game the first time these two teams met (4 catches, 66 yards, 0 touchdowns). In his last 10 games against the Raiders, Allen has had 6+ catches seven times but has topped 100 yards just twice. He has also reached the end zone just three times.
Las Vegas: Zamir White
The fourth-round rookie out of Georgia has just 10 carries on the season — never topping two in a game at any point — but his 28 yards last week was a career-high and may end up being a launch point for more involvement moving forward. As mentioned above, Josh Jacobs is nursing a calf injury — so look for White to possibly play a bigger part in the game plan this week.
Los Angeles 38, Las Vegas 35
I think it’s another close one — and I was impressed by a quality win last week in Seattle, but I’m still not sold this team can do it consistently yet. As I laid out earlier in the week, I’m not sure Josh McDaniels is ready to help his team win games as a head coach yet — and I think that hurts them in this one.