Chargers vs. Raiders matchups: Derek Carr poses challenges for L.A. defense
Breaking down how the Chargers (2-1) and the Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) match up heading into their game at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time Monday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be carried on ESPN.
When Chargers have the ball: After sputtering in the red zone for two games, the Chargers scored touchdowns on four of five trips inside the 20-yard line against Kansas City in Week 3. They beat the Chiefs in the final minute, when Justin Herbert hit Mike Williams for a four-yard score, Herbert’s fourth touchdown pass of the game. Against Las Vegas, the Chargers will see a familiar scheme, their former defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, now holding the same position on Jon Gruden’s staff. “They’ve really tried to give that team some ammunition to play with,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “They’re doing a really good job of coaching on the defensive side of things, changing the culture on that defense.” Statistically, Las Vegas mostly has been a middle-of-pack defense to date. But Bradley’s familiarity with the Chargers’ personnel could prove advantageous. Then again, the Chargers know what Bradley’s trying to do too, so ... The Chargers remain the most-penalized team — in terms of yardage — in the NFL, and the majority of those issues have come on offense. They’ve lost three touchdowns to penalties, including two for illegal shifts. Staley talked repeatedly in advance of this game about the need to eliminate such unforced errors. Doing so against the 3-0 Raiders might be a must.
Following their win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, the Chargers are favorites heading into their Monday showdown with the Las Vegas Raiders.
When Raiders have the ball: The soundtrack of Derek Carr’s career has been a raging debate about whether he’s a top-notch quarterback or quarterback several notches below the top. Through three games this season, the top-notch crowd has been proved correct. “You can tell he has complete control of it,” Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said. “He’s making it happen.” Carr has more passing yards and a higher rating than Herbert does. He also has 13 completions of at least 25 yards compared to Herbert’s five. Of the Raiders’ pass-catching corps that includes wide receiver Henry Ruggs III and tight end Darren Waller, Hill said, “They’re a loaded group.” The Chargers have placed an emphasis on limiting explosive pass plays and are coming off an impressive effort in which they succeeded in containing Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes. Committing to such a plan has cost them against the run. The Chargers are the league’s worst rushing defense statistically, giving up 170 yards per game. But, for now, Staley and his defensive staff have been content to live with the trade-off. With Carr throwing the ball so well, Las Vegas hasn’t relied much on its ground game. That could change — even if slightly — in this game. The Raiders also might get Josh Jacobs, questionable because of an ankle injury, back.
When they kick: The Chargers’ Tristan Vizcaino has missed three kicks — a field goal and two extra points — over the last two weeks, but the game at Kansas City was played in swirling winds. Daniel Carlson is nine for nine on field-goal tries for the Raiders and kicked an overtime winner in Week 3 against Miami.
Jeff Miller’s prediction: The Chargers have played 26 one-score games — out of 35 total — since the start of the 2019 season. Let’s make it 27 out of 36.
CHARGERS 31, RAIDERS 29
Go beyond the scoreboard
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