On Sunday afternoon, the Las Vegas Raiders will start the second half of their schedule by taking on the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. There are several important matchups to consider when trying to determine a winner, but Josh Jacobs is likely the key to a Raiders victory. The franchise running back, who is coming off his first 100 plus yard game of the season, will need to bring that same focus and aggressiveness if the Raiders want any shot at victory this week. Below are a couple of Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers key matchups to look for in Sunday’s game.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Key Matchups
Josh Jacobs vs Chargers Defense
Despite suboptimal playing conditions, Jacobs still managed to rush for 100 plus yards against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. He is the definition of a workhorse back. Jacobs’ runs will not often show up on any of the highlight reels, but his production is pivotal to the success of the entire offense. Everything becomes so much easier when Jacobs is efficiently grinding out yards on first and second down. An efficient Jacobs forces teams to stack the box, thus opening the passing game for Derek Carr.
Despite their record, the Chargers have one of the best run defenses in the league. They currently rank sixth in rushing first downs allowed, and eighth in rushing yards allowed. They are also tied for second in rushing touchdowns allowed with five. For the sake of comparison and perspective, the Raiders have already allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this season. If their defense did have one weakness, it would be the amount of 20 plus yard runs they allow. The team ranks bottom five in the league in that category. With that in mind, Sunday would be a good time for Jacobs to finally hit a few homeruns.
The Other Key Matchup: Johnathan Abram vs. Justin Herbert
Despite not practicing for the majority of the week, Johnathan Abram will be good to go come this Sunday. Good thing too, because the defense of the Raiders looks entirely different (worse) without him on the field. Abram is clearly the captain and trendsetter for this defense. He is constantly popping off the screen with big hit after big hit. Even if the opposing offense calls a play to the opposite side of the field, Abram finds a way to get involved. If he can stay healthy, Abram will be a sure-fire Pro Bowl player for years to come.
No one expected Justin Herbert to play this well this early into his career. A good portion of people did not think he would play this well ever, maybe with good reason. It has been amazing to see how well Herbert has started off his rookie season after being forced into action on a moment’s notice. His efforts may not be showing up in the win column, but the Chargers are definitely a better team with him as the signal caller. The Raiders will need to continue with their blitz-heavy defense. They have to ramp up the pressure and force the young quarterback into making some errant throws.
Do not be mistaken. The Chargers are a much better team than their record says they are. They will be without two of their best players in Joey Bosa and Austin Ekeler, so there could absolutely be an opportunity to pull away early. Even if the Raiders fall behind quickly, fans can take comfort in knowing that Jon Gruden, and the rest of the coaching staff, have done an excellent job making adjustments at halftime. Something worth noting is that the Chargers are the only team to blow four leads of 16 plus points in their last four games. The Raiders should win this game by at least two scores.