Let’s look at some keys to the game:
Get to Justin Herbert:
Don’t look now, but the Raiders’ pass-rush has improved some during the two-game win streak. They had three sacks in both games. Maxx Crosby, who has 10.5 of the team’s 16 sacks, has been consistently providing a good pass-rush. But other players, especially the defensive tackles, are starting to get a push. That needs to continue. Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert can pick part a defense when given time. That’s what he did in a 24-19 Week 1 Chargers’ win. He completed 26 of 34 passes for 279 yards and he threw three touchdown passes. The Raiders must put heat on Herbert.
Go, Josh, go:
No one is hotter than Josh Jacobs at the moment, so the Raiders have to ride him if he can play. He is dealing with a calf injury and the team is trying to get him ready for Sunday. He is coming off a team-record 229 yard rushing performance, punctuated by a 86-yard touchdown run in overtime to beat Seattle. The Raiders are 4-1 when Jacobs runs for more than 1,000 yards and 0-6 in the other games. Oh, and the Chargers are allowing a league-high 5.4 rushing yards a carry. It’s time to ride Jacobs to another victory.
Dominate second half:
The Chargers won at Arizona on Sunday with a last-second touchdown and a two-point conversion. But they have been terrible in the second half recently. They ended a streak with just one touchdown in their past 16 second-half quarters. They are averaging just 7.5 points in the second half this season, which is the fifth worst in the NFL. The Raiders outscored the Chargers 16-7 in the second half in week one but couldn’t overcome a 17-3 first-half deficit. Perhaps outplaying Los Angeles in the second half will have better results this week.
Stop the run:
The Raiders’ defense has been roughed up this season, but it has had its moments against the run. They, despite two touchdowns runs, shut down Seattle stud rookie tailback Kenneth Walker last week and need to keep Austin Ekeler from running well this week. He had just 36 yards rushing on 14 carries against Las Vegas in Week 1. A repeat performance is needed.
While Jacobs made some big plays were he main reason why the Raiders upset the Seahawks last week, Las Vegas’ offensive success on third down played a quiet, but a big role in the win. The Raiders converted eight of 14 attempts on third down and it helped on multiple scoring drives. If they can keep up that rate this week, it could result in Las Vegas splitting the season series with the Chargers.