This Sunday’s Week 4 matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will be a matter of who gives in first. At the beginning stages of the year, the Raiders have had plenty of struggles offensively and currently rank tied for 29th in the NFL with 15.0 points per game. Meanwhile, the Chargers’ defense has held the team back by allowing 29.0 points per game, 28th in the league.
This is also as much of a “must-win” game as can be this early in the season with both teams coming into the contest at 1-2. So, let’s look at how opponents have attacked Los Angeles and see how Las Vegas’ offense compares.
- Points scored: 36
- Passing Yards: 466 (10.4 yards per pass)
- Rushing Yards: 70 (3.5 yards per rush)
The Dolphins’ offense has been pretty explosive this year and a big reason for that is wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who had 11 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. According to Pro Football Focus, Los Angeles tried defending Hill with just about everybody on their defense as he drew targets against seven different defenders.
In pass protection, PFF had the Chargers racking up 17 total pressures but no defender had a pass-rush grade over 70, so that likely means they were getting a lot of unblocked pressures or their pass-rushers were taking a while to win. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also had 46 dropbacks and was under pressure on 30.4 percent of them (12th-lowest of the week), and was only hit once and didn’t get sacked.
However, Miami’s rushing attack struggled to get off the ground as running back Raheem Mostert was the team’s leading rusher with just 10 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Granted, the flow of the game dictated that as Los Angeles had a lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
- Points scored: 27
- Passing yards: 200 (6.9 yards per pass)
- Rushing yards: 141 (4.1 yards per rush)
Wideout Treylon Burks was Tennessee’s leading receiver with three catches and 76 yards. What’s interesting though is he had a 70-yard grab while wide receiver Chris Moore recorded a 49-yard catch and tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo had a 20-yard reception as well, so it looks like Los Angeles’ secondary is susceptible to giving up a big play.
The Chargers’ pass rush was able to get to Ryan Tannehill though, racking up five sacks and two more QB hits on 14 pressures, per PFF. Joey Bosa was disruptive with two sacks on nine pass rushes before leaving the game early with an injury, while Morgan Fox led the team with four pressures and rookie Tuli Tuipulotu got his first NFL sack.
Unsurprisingly, the rushing attack is where the Titans had the most success with Derrick Henry leading the way and picking up 80 yards on 25 carries. However, rookie running back Tyjae Spears was more efficient with eight rushes for 49 yards—6.1 yards per tote. Tennesse’s offensive line also had a pretty good outing with a 65.4 PFF run-blocking grade as a team, and the majority of the Chargers’ front seven earned sub-par run-defense grades.
- Points scored: 24
- Passing yards: 345 (6.4 yards per pass)
- Rushing yards: 130 (5.4 yards per rush)
Justin Jefferson was the Vikings’ leading receiver with seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. The theme of the Chargers being susceptible to explosive plays through the air continued as Jefferson had a 52-yard catch, wide receiver K.J. Osborn was good for a 36-yard score and T.J. Hockenson made it two weeks in a row that L.A. gave up a 20-yard reception to a tight end. Similar to Week 1 against Hill, the Chargers tried a committee approach to stopping Jefferson but slot cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor was the only defender to have more than one incompletion when targeted against the wideout, per PFF.
Los Angeles’ pass rush had another good performance though, with four sacks and 13 QB hits. Tuipulotu was one of their best performers with nine pressures, including a sack, and Khalil Mack wasn’t far behind him with five pressures to finish second on the team. PFF credited the Chargers with 26 pressures, but Kirk Cousins had the second-most dropbacks in the league with 55 for the week and was under pressure on just 18 of them. For clarity, two (or more) defenders can get a pressure on one dropback.
Minnesota’s rushing attack also had a lot of success as running back Alexander Mattison had his best performance of the year by a wide margin with 20 carries for 93 yards. He logged 19 carries for 62 yards in his previous two games combined. This Vikings also set a season-high with an 82.0 run-blocking grade from PFF as a team and they were below 60 for the metric in their other two games.
How the Raiders Compare
Davante Adams should have no problems putting up numbers against the Chargers’ secondary as they haven’t even come close to keeping a top-tier receiver in check this season. Jakobi Meyers could be in for another solid outing as well given that guys like Burks and Osborn had good performances against the Bolts.
However, the one area where the Raiders’ passing attack is lacking compared to the teams above is the ability to create explosive plays. Jimmy Garoppolo’s lack of arm strength could prevent Las Vegas from being able to take advantage of that weakness for Los Angeles, and Las Vegas really only has two wideouts who can win deep; Adams and Tre Tucker.
Outside of a tough matchup last week against the Steelers, the Silver and Black’s offensive line has been pretty stout in pass protection, ranking tied for fifth in PFF’s offensive line pass-blocking efficiency metric (89.3). In comparison, Miami is second (92.1), Tennessee is 31st (75.8) and Minnesota is 22nd (83.1). So, the Raiders are about on par with the Dolphins, who had the most success against the Chargers’ pass rush so far this season.
The biggest question is if the Raiders’ rushing attack can get going on Sunday. They rank 13th in team run-blocking grade from PFF (62.4)—which honestly feels too high—while the Vikings are fourth (69.8) and Titans are ninth (65.1), but the Dolphins are in the bottom third of the league (20th, 54.6).
Meanwhile, the Chargers’ mark against the run is fourth-worst in the NFL (44.8), so this could be the Silver and Black’s best chance to “get right” when it comes to the ground game and build some momentum for the rest of the season.