Today is the day. All the analysis, the ‘expert’ takes, and trash talk this week will be settled on the field. By the end of the day, there will be a set in stone number one in the AFC West. After going through some film and diving into how the Chargers play, I have come up with a list of ‘keys’ to the Raiders winning today.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
The keys start with pressure. There was at least one play in the Chargers game last week that Herbert had five seconds in the pocket. In no way can this happen if the Raiders want to win tonight. Luckily, Maxx Crosby is leading the league in pressure through three weeks. Along with him generating pressure, the rest of the line has been getting to the quarterback. Soloman Thomas and Carl Nassib have both come through in big moments this season.
Staying Disciplined On Defense
The second and most important of the keys is discipline. Applying pressure on the quarterback is both a blessing and a curse when the QB can move. Justin Herbert has shown the ability to move out of the pocket when pressured and make a big play down the field. To stop this, the Raiders secondary has to be disciplined. We saw last year against the Chiefs what happens when they aren’t.
Herbert will complete passes. This year’s Chargers offense has taken more of a particular route with more short routes. It’s up to the secondary to keep them in front and not turning up the field and making it a big play. So far, the Raiders have done an excellent job at minimizing big plays but haven’t had to play against such a big receiving corps.
Pound The Rock
The third key is sticking to the run game. The Chargers have been vulnerable to the run, and that has to continue. Last week Clyde Edwards-Helaire had 100 yards on seventeen attempts, both Tony Pollard (13) and Zeke (16) had more than seventy yards on less than twenty attempts, and week one Antonio Gibson had ninety yards on twenty attempts.
At the moment, Josh Jacobs is a game-time decision, but his appearance would be massive. Since his injury in week one, the Raiders have become a pass-heavy offense and were still able to rack up 100+ rushing yards last week. If Jacobs doesn’t suit up, Peyton Barber has proven to be a solid backup when given a chance.
If the Raiders can do these things effectively, they will secure themselves atop the AFC West. On top of that their three of their next four games are against teams with a losing record or .500 record. If the Raiders can finish tonight with a win, their next game against a team with a winning record is the Broncos in two weeks. Before the season, I had the Raiders going 11-6. It seems now I wasn’t a crazy Raiders fan and was underestimating the improvements they made this offseason. My final prediction for this game is 35-30 Raiders.