After the Los Angeles Chargers Week 4 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, a proud Joey Bosa didn’t mince words when he gave a very clear statement on what he thinks about the Silver & Black’s quarterback Derek Carr.
“We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook. And you saw on (Covington’s) sack, he was pretty much curling into a ball before we even got back there. Great dude, great player…but we know once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down.”
This week the Chargers come to Las Vegas to play a red-hot Raiders team that has just won three in a row while they hobble in at 1-2 in their last 3 games. Though it may contradict Bosa’s narrative Carr has been electric when the pressure was on winning 4 fourth-quarter come-back victories all coming on the final drive of the game. The stakes couldn’t be higher either for their match-up on Sunday night in prime time because depending on the day’s outcome this game will decide the final playoff wild card spot for the AFC.
The pressure has been on for Carr without his favorite target Darren Waller who’s been out the last several weeks due to knee and back injuries but it seems that if Waller’s current activities at practice continue to upwardly trend the Raiders may have one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL back just in time.
The Chargers are led by the young high-flying Justin Herbert who is making every GM who passed on him in last year’s draft look like a complete fool. Herbert has posted an impressive 4,631 yards, 35 Touchdowns, & 14 Interceptions so far this season. In two years he has become the Chargers’ stoic leader and one of the most promising young talents we have ever seen. Herbert is 23 years old.
LA also has their star running back Austin Ekeler playing this week who has had a few injuries and a bout with covid-19 this season. Ekeler has scored 18 total touchdowns this year, 11 coming on the ground and 7 through the air. He is the centerpiece of this offense and once he gets going he’s hard to stop due to his versatility and physical running style.
This game ultimately will be decided in the trenches for both teams. Who’s offensive line will be able to protect their respective star Quarterback? What star edge rusher is going to emerge this game: will it be Bosa or the tandem of Maxx Crosby & Yannick Ngakoue?
PFF currently has the Chargers offensive line ranked at 11 while the Raiders are in the bottom third. This could be the biggest difference in a matchup that otherwise feels pretty even.
It has been a long time since these teams locked horns but the story of that game was the Chargers jumped to an early lead and eliminated the run game for Jacobs and the Raiders. LA controlled the clock and dominated Las Vegas in time of possession in week four so I would expect the Raiders to run early and often to soften this LA pass rush that was able to sack Carr 4 times.
The Chargers have an excellent roster, a promising young quarterback, and a coach that’s willing to go for it on 4th down from anywhere on the field. The Raiders have been extremely resilient as of late and there is a sense that they may be playing with a chip on their shoulder this week. This team has faced so much adversity from the Gruden controversy, the Ruggs tragedy, and injuries galore. They will be playing with an underdog mentality making them extremely dangerous for LA.
The sharps in Vegas have the Chargers favored by -3 points meaning that they expect this to finish as a one-possession game. Mistakes must be minimal and every play matters. The kick-off is Sunday 1/9/22 at 5:20 PM western time on prime time, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
I pick the Raiders not just to cover but to win this game outright. Momentum favors Vegas, home-field advantage, and extra motivation from outside sources of many fashions. Should be a treat giving us a serious taste of playoff football culminating another regular NFL Season.