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Raiders-Chargers: 5 things to watch

Week 1 is almost here

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams, Derek Carr
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders kick off the regular season on Sunday in a massive AFC West matchup, at the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.

Here are five things to watch for in the game:

The Adams-Carr show:

The Raiders are finally introducing new star wide receiver Davante Adams in the offense. Like quarterback Derek Carr and the team’s other stars, Adams (who was acquired in a trade from the Green Bay Packers in March) didn’t play in the preseason. The only work both Adams and Carr got against another team this summer was two joint practice days with the New England Patriots in late August. Both Adams and Carr starred. If the Raiders are going to win in Los Angeles, these two need a big game. Expect it to happen.

Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp
Khalil Mack
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Protect Carr:

Of course, the biggest question mark about the Raiders going into the season is the offensive line. It is a complete work in progress. The unit, though, has a stiff first test as the Chargers will have both Joey Bosa and former Raiders’ star Khalil Mack coming after Carr. The Raiders’ offense should be explosive, but if Carr is under constant pressure. It’s not going to be easy.

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Josh McDaniels
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Keep the clean play going:

While many stars didn’t play in the preseason, Las Vegas overall had an impressive summer. The Raiders were undefeated in preseason for the first time in franchise history. What stood out most of the preseason was how cleanly the Raiders played under first-year head coach Josh McDaniels. The Raiders committed just 13 total penalties (three in the last two games combined) and did not turn the ball over. It was the first time in the NFL in 11 years that a team did not commit a turnover in the preseason. Yes, the regular season is a different animal, but if the crisp and discipline play can translate into Sunday’s game, it will go a long way to the Raiders winning.

Red-zone success:

We all know that the Raiders struggled in the red zone under the last coaching staff. Things should be better because Adams is a red-zone master and players have valued McDaniels’ play calling down by the end zone. But we have to see it. Kicker Daniel Carlson is a gem, but this offense can’t keep settling for three points after long drive this season. It needs to change, beginning Sunday.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Justin Herbert
Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Make Herbert uncomfortable:

Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert has been a big headache for the Raiders’ defense. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has to do his best to keep Herbert from slicing up his unit. It begins with a constant pass-rush from Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones and strong coverage by the Raiders secondary. When they have pressured Herbert, the Raiders have had success.

If the Raiders can get to Herbert and make him uncomfortable, Las Vegas can easily win this game.