SNF Preview: Chargers Visit Sin City and Clash with Raiders for Playoff Berth
The Los Angeles Chargers will travel to Las Vegas and fight the Raiders for a spot in the postseason on Sunday night. Both teams come into the game with a 9–7 record and are in a “Win and Get In” situation. It’s as simple as that, win and you punch your ticket to the playoffs. However, here’s something interesting. If the Jaguars beat the Colts tomorrow, then mathematically the Raiders and Chargers could tie and both could own a spot in the postseason. Even if the Jags were to pull off the upset, I still don’t think that both teams would tie on purpose. One team would either steal the last snap and win the game, or they’d just play on like normal. I think I could speak for everyone when I say that it would be extremely boring just to watch QBs kneel for 60 minutes. As long as both teams play their hardest and give it their all, the stage is set for what should be an exciting shootout tomorrow.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers’ offense has been on fire with the regular season coming to an end, averaging 33.8 points per game in their last 5. Star QB Justin Herbert has thrown for at least a 70% completion percentage and 2 TDs in 4 of his last 5 games. He should have no problem against a Raiders defense ranking in the bottom half in Passing TDs allowed this season, and points allowed this season. He also will have no trouble finding time in the pocket, with the Raiders blitzing only 12.7% of the time (least in NFL). Despite Herbert’s successes, Keenan Allen, the top WR for Herbert, has been in a bit of a slump. He hasn’t totaled 100 yards or more since week 11. This could be something to watch for, because if Allen is maintained by the Raiders, then Herbert could be in for a frustrating night. The Raiders’ rushing defense isn’t notable, ranking 21st in rushing yards allowed per game and 22nd in rushing TDs allowed. This lack of ability to stop the run was evident in the first time these two teams met this season, as RB1 Austin Ekeler ran for 117 yards and a TD in week 4. The Chargers defense gets absolutely pummeled on the ground, 2nd to last in ground yards allowed. They did great in their Week 4 clash with the Raiders though, only giving up 48 yards on the ground. Overall, their passing defense is better than their rushing, ranking 10th in QB pressure % and 12th in passing yards allowed. They held Derek Carr to 196 yards in week 4 and picked him off once. The Chargers will have to get Keenan Allen going early, establish Ekeler on the ground, and repeat their defensive successes last time they faced the Raiders if they wish to win. The defense will be especially key, because we all know Herbert has the ability to run up the score. If they can shut down RB Josh Jacobs on the ground and pressure Carr, they will see themselves in the postseason.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders have built some momentum recently, winning their last 3 games. They only gave up 15.6 points on average in that time period. Their defense kept the QBs to less than 170 yards in each of those games, but take note that the QBs were Nick Mullens, Drew Lock, and Carson Wentz. Not exactly the highest quality of quarterbacks. However, they do rank 10th in passing yards allowed per game and 12th in tackles for loss on the season. The Raiders passing offense is great, only averaging 0.8 yards a game less than the Chargers. The rushing offense has averaged 112 yards a game in the past 3 contests, which is better than their season average of 90.2. Derek Carr has thrown a TD and at least 200 yards in each of his last 4 contests. However, note that his passer rating was not over 100 in any of those games. Carr is going to be the key piece if the Raiders want to win this game. He needs to step up and help out his defense and rushing offense. His 196 yards wasn’t enough in week 4, and it won’t be enough this week to eek out a win. The Raiders’ success will be dependent on the passing game to give them an edge, but topping Justin Herbert in the passing game is a tall task for any QB.
At the time of publishing, the Chargers are 3-point favorites and the O/U is 49. The Chargers might run into some issues with their inability to stop the run, but I believe their air defense will shut down Derek Carr and Herbert will run up the score. Justin Herbert should have his way with the Raiders defense as long as he gets Keenan Allen rolling and utilizes the deep and 50/50 ball with Mike Williams. I’m decently confident that the Chargers will cover the spread of 3, but very confident that they will win, so the moneyline would be my for sure pick. The total should go over, as the Chargers offense has been killing it of late. Even if the Raiders lose this game, they will most likely still score at least 20 due to the nature of the Chargers defense. TE Darren Waller is a beast and will most likely reach the end zone. Take the over, but tread with caution as the last meeting between these two went under. This should be a great game to watch with both teams’ seasons on the line, I’ll make sure to tune in on Sunday night.
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