New FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Chargers – Week 1

Las Vegas Raiders (0-0) | Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)


Eureka! Now that the Bills and Rams have officially kicked off the 2022 NFL regular season from California, the Silver & Black will dawn on that same building (SoFi Stadium) for another epic clash with the Los Angeles Chargers.


Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: TQ for Franchise Sports Media

All too fitting, these division rivals are chomping at the bit to get to one another, especially after last year’s regular season conclusion, wherein the Raiders dramatically eliminated the Bolts from playoff contention.

Nearly 250 days have passed since that epic showdown in the desert, and I think every football fan is ready for an encore. Will a venue change help the boys in powder blue? Well, since returning to the “City of Angels” in 2017, the Chargers have had a tough time solidifying a home-field advantage, especially against the Raiders (who, up until last February, were the only team to have won a Lombardi Trophy while playing for LA). Of course, we saw a lively crowd file into SoFi on Thursday for Bills-Rams, but I think Raider Nation’s energy level easily tops that come Sunday afternoon.

With the 53-man rosters set and ready to go, we are indeed in store for another gridiron classic. I mean, what better way to kick off the season than against one of your most hated rivals? Dating back to 1960, the Raiders and Chargers have competed head-to-head in a total of 124 games, with the Raiders taking the bigger half of the wishbone (66-56-2).

Let’s dive into the opening matchup with the Bolts and explore a few keys to the game, along with the injury and weather forecasts. Remember, the Raiders will see the Chargers again this year in Week 13 at the Death Star.


HOF game: Raiders 27 – Jaguars 11

PRE1: Raiders 26 – Vikings 20

PRE2: Raiders 15 – Dolphins 13

PRE3: Raiders 23 – Patriots 6




Carr & Co. vs. Bolts’ secondary:


Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Though it has been subject to rampant speculation this offseason, Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr knows what this year’s overall potential is. After successfully wooing the NFL’s most productive wide receiver, Carr now has an offensive cast that can absolutely thrust this team into the postseason.

Under the guidance and playbook of Josh McDaniels, expect there to be a strong run-presence with Josh JacobsZamir White, and Brittain Brown, but Carr will do well to feed Adams early and often. Adams runs the entire route tree magnificently and consistently gets the best releases in the game. However, I see him getting involved with short/scheme passes in the first quarter of Sunday’s contest.

Naturally, Hunter Renfrow will free up to operate in the slot with even more space than last year (when he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rec. mark). His hands are sure, and Carr has high trust in Renfrow, but there is also tight end Darren Waller, who could present a significant problem for the Bolts.

With newly acquired CB J.C. Jackson likely out of Sunday’s game, will LA use safety Derwin James more on Waller or Renfrow? Nevertheless, all signs point to somebody being open. If Carr can distribute the rock to the player in the most advantageous situation, those same signs point to another monster year for DC4. This leads me to the next key; Can the O-line hold up in Week 1? 


Return of the Mack:

Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Reunions are a theme for this Sunday’s opening slate (Carr & AdamsBaker vs. ClevelandFlacco vs. BaltimoreRuss vs. Seattle). Still, one Raider Nation is likely not looking forward to is Khalil Mack in baby blue lightning stripes. Since being dealt away by the Gruden regime a few years ago, the Raiders have only competed against Mack once (WK5 of 2019), defeating him and the Bears at the Oakland Coliseum. In that game, Mack logged three tackles while also recovering a fumble, but as we know, he’ll be going against a very different offensive line than back in 2019.

Joining forces with Joey Bosa, the Chargers have an elite pass-rush duo. Bosa typically mans the left end of the defense, leaving a marquee matchup on the other side with Mack going against Kolton Miller. That will be must-see-TV, but can Jermaine Eluemunor hold his own against Bosa for four quarters, or will we see the rookie-Thayer Munford get a shot at the All-Pro? The Raiders’ interior OL is also inexperienced, and you can bet new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will call on them to help with double teams on the edge. Ultimately, this entire game can be won and lost in the matchup of LA’s defensive front versus Vegas’ offensive line.


Getting to Herbert:


Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Let us now look at the reciprocating matchup since the Raiders have a fierce pass-rush duo of their own. You already know who Mad Maxx Crosby is. Over his three-year career in Silver & BlackThe Condor has produced 25 QB sacks, 142 combined tackles, and 43 TFLs while forcing four fumbles. Simply put, his speed, length, and agility make a matchup nightmare for any offensive tackle. I like him to win most of his reps against Chargers RT Trey Pipkins III.

Remember that the Raiders are facing one of the best pure-throwers of the football in Justin Herbert. What’s the best way to disrupt a guy like that? Well, continually planting him on the ground is usually a strong strategy. Also, keep in mind: Starting corners Rock Ya-Sin and Nate Hobbs will have their hands full downfield with the bigger-bodied Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. So yes, getting to Herbert quickly will prove vital.

Crosby’s new running mate, Chandler Jones, is an All-Pro eager for a fresh start on a contending team. At 32, Jones is still among the most explosive players at his position. He’ll have his work cut out for himself as he goes against Bolts’ young LT Rashawn Slater, who is coming off a 2nd team All-Pro nod as a rookie. 

Jones will look to get into his bag of experience against the massive tackle from Northwestern. Additionally, the edge rushers will need strength from the interior. Bilal Nichols and Andrew Billings have great size to clog up the middle, but gang-tackling and finishing the play must be paramount against running back Austin Ekeler.  


Ground production: Jacobs vs. Ekeler

Of course, I think both receiving corps matchups favorably against the opposing secondaries in this contest (the quality of QB play certainly helps). Still, I genuinely feel that whichever side controls the ground game will emerge victorious. With Jacobs in a contract year, all of Raider Nation is expecting him to play with high motivation. Ekeler, on the other hand, is coming off a career season in which he scored 20 total touchdowns; His dynamic skill set makes him a reliable threat through the air, routinely beating bigger linebackers in coverage.

Additionally, both backs run with booming physicality, never shying away from contact. With this in mind, I believe the Raiders have more depth at halfback compared to LAC. On the other side of the pillow, the Chargers have the better offensive line, especially with veteran-center Corey Linsley coming over last year. Never forget: In an era of high-flying offenses, the battle in the trenches (which also dictates the pace of play) trumps all.


Coaching matchup:


Although I think there is plenty that Chargers’ HC Brandon Staley does well, I would confidently give the edge to McDaniels and his staff here. We should not ignore McDaniels’ long track record of orchestrating balanced offenses on numerous championship teams. Of course, I don’t need to remind Raider Nation of Staley’s on-field gaffs; It was only eight months ago that we saw Raiders’ 2021 interim HC Rich Bisaccia out-coach him in a significant spot. With that said, Staley is a defensive-minded guy, so it will be most intriguing to see the Chargers’ D match up with the Raiders’ dynamic offensive unit.




As of Friday (09/09) morning, here are the reported injury designations:

LV –



QUESTIONABLE: TE Donald Parham, Jr. (hamstring), CB J.C. Jackson (ankle)

PROBABLE: RB Isaiah Spiller (ankle)




SoFi Stadium is a covered venue and maintains semi-control of the playing conditions. Outside in InglewoodCalifornia, it will be a pleasant 80 degrees/partly cloudy around the time of kickoff.


The Raiders will head to SoFi Stadium for their 2022 regular season opener against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers, which will take place Sunday, Sept. 11. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 pm and can be seen locally on Fox 5 (local radio play-by-play on RNR AM920).

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-Gabe Santiago – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Gabe on Twitter & Instagram at @gps_onthemic

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