Raiders vs chargers
Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Chargers – Week 18

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) | Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

 

The Las Vegas Raiders will battle the Los Angeles Chargers in a winner take all showdown Sunday night.

 

Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: David Becker/AP

Sunday night will be the biggest game at Allegiant Stadium in its short history. The Las Vegas Raiders will meet fellow AFC West rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, for Sunday Night Football matchup for all the marbles. The winner will move on to the postseason, while it’s better luck next year for the loser.

Both AFC West teams are 9-7 with an opportunity to keep their season alive and end their rival’s season. What better way to put an end to the NFL’s regular-season climatically?

The Raiders have won their last three games to keep their post-season hopes alive. They haven’t last made the playoffs since 2016. The Silver & Black are hoping that with all that has gone on with the franchise this season, they can band together for one of the biggest games in franchise history. It is most definitely the biggest in Las Vegas Raiders history.

 

The Raiders are in control of their destiny.

 

Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Despite all of the turmoil that this team has been through this season, from losing their head coach to losing a young star player, to shaky play from a young offensive line, and starting 3-0 only to go 3-7 in their next ten games, the Raiders are still in it.

Looking as if it was just too much to overcome, the Raiders showed their resilience, grit, determination and that their Commitment to Excellence motto was alive and well even when it seemed that all hope was gone. Like the Phoenix, they came alive and rose from the ashes to play in a winner-take-all game.

On the outside, looking into the playoff picture, the Raiders knew they had to take it one week at a time, and it seemed as if every week was a must-win scenario, and they answered the call every time. With a road win in Cleveland, defending home turf against Denver, and earning a tough fought victory in Indianapolis in their last three games.

The Raiders have positioned themselves to have the chance at postseason play for the first time in five years. A franchise that was at one point a stable in the playoffs had seen themselves left out for far too long. With the recent passing of Raiders legendary coach John Madden, this team has even more incentive to play their hearts out for a man who bled Silver & Black.

This is a rematch from their week four encounter in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium that saw the Chargers give the Raiders their first loss on the season, in a 28-14 defeat. That was a Monday Night game, and now both will square off again in another prime time slot, Sunday Night Football on NBC.

The Raider offense has struggled in the second half of the season, only managing to score more than 17 points in a game twice, resulting in wins (vs. Dallas 36-33, and vs. Indianapolis 23-20). A big issue has been the troubles on the offensive line, which has started to make strides in the run blocking department, which opens up the passing game.

 

A big help for the offense will be the return of star tight end Darren Waller, who has missed several games due to a knee injury and is slated to return to action.

 

Raiders vs Bears              
Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The addition of Waller will be huge for the team, especially given how hot wideout Hunter Renfrow has been this season. Add in the emergence of Zay Jones, who is becoming more involved in the passing attack; Derek Carr will have plenty of weapons to throw to. All hands will need to be on deck if the Raiders want to continue to play in the 2021-2022 season.

After defeating the Raiders in week 4, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa said this about the Raiders quarterback, “We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook… once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down.

This has been a statement etched into Carr and Raider Nations’ memory. This matchup has been circled as a statement game and one to shut Bosa the hell up. Despite the ups and downs of the season, Carr is fourth in the NFL in passing yards (4,618) and is one of the better quarterbacks in the league when his team needs a comeback. So, will round two see the Chargers defense get to Carr and force him to shut down? Or will Carr answer the bell and show that if you knock him down six times, he gets up seven?

Carr has the weapons at the skill positions to damage any defense. If his line can have their best showing of the season and the play-calling stays aggressive, redemption and payback might be in order. This team has talent across the board to play with anyone on any given Sunday, but if not used correctly, they may find themselves falling short once again of what could’ve been, which is a story all too familiar to Raider Nation.

 

The Raiders defense needs to be the hammer that puts the final nail in their opponents’ coffin.

 

Raiders vs Chargers
Photo Credit: Sports Betting

Just as Carr is among the league leaders in passing yards, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is having a spectacular season of his own. So far, Herbert has thrown for 4,631 passing yards, 35 touchdowns with an additional three touchdowns on the ground. So, just as the offense needs to step up, the defense needs to continue to come through and play lights out if the team sees themselves standing victorious at the end.

The defensive unit has been superb and the leading factor in winning three in a row. Taking on three excellent teams at running the ball (Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis), none of those running backs could dominate the game.

For example, Browns running back Nick Chubb had 91 yards rushing himself, the Browns finished with 89 total rushing yards (D’Ernest Johnson had -2 yards). Colts running back and MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor who when rushing for over 100 yards, the Colts were 9-0. Despite having 108 yards on the ground, the Raiders broke that streak with a win. This unit has made leaps and bounds through the season and has seen tremendous play at all three levels.

Upfront, Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby and team sack leader Yannick Ngakoue have wreaked havoc all season on opposing team’s backfields. Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman is among the league leaders in tackles. The secondary players such as Casey Hayward and rookie safety Tre’von Moehrig have helped reshape the back half of the defense where teams can’t just risk passing the ball. Stand-out play from rookie Divine Deablo has seen him become a force to be reckoned with going forward at linebacker. Overall, players starting or in the rotation have played with intensity, toughness, and a never-back-down will.

The Raiders’ defense will have their hands full for all four quarters against the Chargers. A star at quarterback and explosive weapons at the skill positions make this offense score points in bunches. So the defense will need to lock in and execute all game. Applying pressure in the backfield, holding up against the run, not allowing easy passes downfield, sure-fire tackling, and not making any mental errors that give up big plays or draw penalties.

It may seem like it’s asking a lot, but it is what it is. If the Raiders want to be taken seriously and be a consistent contender in the postseason once again, these are things they have to be able to do game in and game out.

The Raiders will be on the big stage with the bright lights shining down on them. In Las Vegas, there is anticipation, expectations, and excitement. The stage gets no bigger than this for a regular-season game, “win or go home.”  The Raiders need to remember the mantra and follow it by any means necessary if they wish to move on: “Just Win Baby!

 

The Raiders and Chargers play Sunday at 5:20 pm at Allegiant Stadium and can be seen on NBC.

Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers                               Raiders vs Chargers

-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

Follow The Franchise on social media

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube