On Sunday afternoon, the Oakland Raiders will travel to southern California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. There are important matchups to consider when trying to determine a winner, but the defensive ends likely hold the keys to victory. First-round rookie, Clelin Ferrell, must have a productive game in order for the Raiders to leave Sunday with a victory.
Oakland Raiders Week 16: Why Clelin Ferrell Holds the Key to Victory
Defensive End Play Will Likely Be Key
Despite having a slow start to the season, Clelin Ferrell has really come into his own throughout the course of the last few games. While his impact may not be showing up on the stat sheet, having gone five straight games without a sack, he’s done well against the run and in terms of generating quarterback pressure. The last game Ferrell registered a sack was against the Chargers (2.5), so who better than them to help him finish the year on a strong note. To make matters even better, the Chargers notoriously have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They’ve surrendered 30 sacks thus far this season, and really struggled with the pass rush of the Raiders the last time these two teams met. This game has “breakout performance” written all over it for Ferrell.
The Other Key Matchup
Now that star right tackle Trent Brown has been placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his season, it’ll be up to second-year player, Brandon Parker, to slow down the pass rush of the Chargers. Drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Parker has been mainly a disappointment so far in his career. He allowed eight and a half sacks last season on 12 games started and has already allowed two sacks this season as a backup. He’ll be tasked with slowing down Pro Bowl pass rusher Joey Bosa. Bosa currently has 10.5 sacks on the season and has been one of the lone bright spots for the defense of the Chargers. He had zero sacks against the Raiders five weeks ago, though it’s understandable considering he was matched up against Trent Brown for the majority of the game. Now is the time for Parker to step to the plate and show everyone why he was an early-round pick.
After suffering an embarrassing home loss last week to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders have now lost four straight games. As the injuries continue to pile up, the season seems all but lost. While the Raiders aren’t technically eliminated from the playoffs yet, the team would be wise to start shutting down some of their younger players and being looking towards the future. This Raiders team wouldn’t be able to make an impact even if they were able to somehow sneak into the playoffs. Even with Hunter Renfrow expected to return from injury this week, it’s hard to remain optimistic for any of the Raiders’ remaining two games. The team will be without Josh Jacobs this week and possibly for the remainder of the season due to his lingering shoulder injury. While it may not be a popular opinion, I believe it’s in the best interest of the franchise to just shut it down for the rest of the season, evaluate some of the younger talent on the team, and look forward to Las Vegas next year.