Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) vs. Chargers (2-1)
When: 5.15 p.m. Monday
Or: SoFi Stadium
Television / Radio: ESPN; 98.7 FM; 105.5 FM / 94.3 FM (Spanish); Sirius 83
Line: Chargers by 3 points
Designations of notable injuries: Chargers: LB Kenneth Murray (ankle; questionable) DT Justin Jones (off; calf), CB Chris Harris Jr. (questionable; shoulder),
Raiders: RB Josh Jacobs (questionable; ankle)
What’s at stake? The Chargers can show they are true playoff contenders by winning their second straight game and handing the Raiders their first loss of the season. This match will be a good indicator of the position of both teams. The Chargers come off a road victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but suffered a horrific home loss to the Dallas Cowboys the week before. The Chargers may have found their rhythm with the new coaching staff, but they’ll need to reduce penalties to be a real contender for AFC West. The Raiders are 3-0 but had to overcome a 14-0 deficit to Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett last week.
Who is better? These teams even appear offensively with plenty of guns and searing quarterbacks, but the Chargers have the edge with star defensemen Joey Bosa and Derwin James by their side. The Chargers’ defense forced the Chiefs to make four turnovers because inexperienced players stepped up to create these takeaways. Safety Nasir Adderley and cornerbacks Tevaughn Campbell and Asante Samuel Jr. have helped contain the Chiefs’ best weapons. They’ll have their hands full against Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, tight end Darren Waller and wide receivers Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards.
The Raiders ‘defense has improved under the guidance of Gus Bradley, the Chargers’ former defensive coordinator. Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue have provided constant pressure this season, but they could struggle to join Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert. The Chargers’ offensive line, with rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater and center Corey Linsley, gave Herbert plenty of time to operate.
Match to follow: Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen versus Raiders cornerback Casey Hayward. They were teammates for five seasons with the Chargers before the team released Hayward during the offseason. Hayward quickly found a new home with the Raiders and is enjoying a rebounding season. But Allen will likely be Hayward’s toughest game of the season. It will be a chess match between two familiar opponents.
Shippers win if: … They limit the penalties for infringements. The Chargers lost another touchdown last week due to an illegal substitution. They might be having communication issues at home with many Raiders fans who should be at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers’ offense will need to be on the same page if they end up using the silent account for a home game.
Fancy sleeper: Waller will likely have a big outing if the Chargers focus on stopping downline play, a formula that has worked against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Chargers coach Brandon Staley will likely look to take Carr’s best outside weapons and force him to throw them at Waller for short wins. But if Waller gets too many pieces, Staley might be forced to forward James to the Pro Bowl tight end.
Prediction: It’s never a dull game when these two AFC West rivals meet, especially in prime time. Expect another high scoring deal that will require a winning drive. Herbert will take the ball last and carry the Chargers to a 34-31 victory at SoFi Stadium.