It’s the first day of October and it’s already starting to feel like the playoff push around here.
That’s what happens when the Las Vegas Raiders start 3-0 for the first time in 19 years. Things are getting serious and there is a big game Monday night at the Los Angeles Chargers, who are 2-1 and coming off a huge road win at the Kansas City Chiefs.
This is the first time since 2002 that the Raiders and Chargers are both facing each other with a winning record. So, yes, this game is kind of huge.
Here are five Raiders’ keys to victory Monday night:
Spread the ball around:
If the Raiders’ passing game continues on a historic pace, they are obviously going to be difficult to beat. Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow all have more than 200 yards receiving and they are all on pace for having more than 1,000 yard receiving season. This is the first time a team has had four players with at least 200 yards receiving through three games. No team has ever had four 1,000-yard receivers. only five teams have ever three 1,000-yard receivers. So, if Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr can continue to spread the ball around it could keep the Raiders winning and on a historic pace.
The Raiders haven’t had a lot of problems so far in 2021, but they have been clunky early. Hence, the two home 14-0 deficits they have had to overcome. The Raiders have been outscored 21-5 in the first quarter through three games. At some point, living that way is going to bite a team. There is no time like the present to change that trend start fast for Jon Gruden’s team.
Run the ball:
The Raiders have been mostly winning on the strength of Carr’s hot arm. However, Gruden loves to run and the opportunity will be there this year. One of the Chargers’ few big problem in 2021 has been their run defense. They are allowing 170 rushing yards a game on the ground. That’s awful. Starter Josh Jacobs has a chance to play this week. A rotation of Jacobs, Week 2 star Peyton Barber and Kenyan Drake could wear down the Chargers’ defense. The Chargers do have the seventh best pass defense, allowing just 201 yards. So, maybe Gruden and Carr will take what the Chargers give them.
Contain Mike Williams:
The Chargers’ offense isn’t all Justin Herbert and wide receiver Keenan Allen. Fellow veteran receiver Mike Williams is having a huge start to the season. He has 22 catches for 295 yards with four touchdown catches. He’s tough to cover. The Chargers’ passing game is another reason why this may be the Raiders’ toughest task to date, especially for the defense.
This is one goes out to the Raider Nation. According to Vivid Seats, 74 percent of SoFi Stadium will be filed by Raiders’ fans. That has often been the case for Chargers’ home games for the Raiders. But they need to mark the first game in this rivalry with fans at SoFi Stadium by completely taking over. Cowboys’ fans helped Dallas give the Chargers their only loss in Week 2 by being super loud at SoFi. Now, it’s Raiders fans’ turn. You can do it.