The Raiders are starting the season 3-0 for the first time since 2002. They’re also atop the AFC West for the first time since, again, 2002. I understand the season isn’t over, however, the Raiders have played poorly since ’02, and this is the first time they’ve looked this good. After last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins, they’re also the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 against three teams that finished the last season with ten or more wins.
Now into Week Four, the Raiders play their first inner-division game against the Chargers. The Chargers are starting season 2-1, winning Week One win against the WFT and a big win against the Chiefs last week. The last time the Raiders and Chargers played each other, LA took the win in overtime.
In these next sections, I will go over the stat leaders at each offensive position (QB1, HB1, WR1, TE1) followed by defensive totals.
Derek Carr has started the season on all cylinders passing for the most yards in the league through three weeks (1,203). Through these games, he has also thrown for six touchdowns, two interceptions, and completed 64.7% of his passes. Carr has also been sacked eight times and led the team to two game-winning drives.
Justin Herbert through three weeks has thrown for 956 yards through three weeks. Aside from yards, his stats are comparable to Derek’s as he has thrown six touchdowns, four last week, three interceptions, and 69.8% completion. Herbert has also been sacked four times and led two game-winning drives.
This is where it gets a little interesting for the Raiders. Normally, it would just be Josh Jacobs. However, he has only played once this season. So, I will go with the HB with the most carries per team.
In this scenario, Peyton Barber is the Raiders lead back; I didn’t think I’d be saying that ever. Barber had the best game of his career last week rushing for a total of 111 yards and a touchdown. On the season, he has thirty-six carries for 143 yards (4 yds/carry) and a touchdown. Hopefully this week, we can see Drake and Josh on the field for the second time this season. If not, we now know that Barber can handle the carries while Drake gets the catches.
On the other side, Austin Ekeler is totaling thirty-five carries for 166 yards (4.7 yds/carry) and a touchdown. Ekeler, being a more versatile back, also had fifteen catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers don’t split carries all that much with the second-most being thirteen, so we should see a lot of Ekeler on Monday.
The Raiders WR1 is up in the air at the moment. The receiving corps is young and improving, but right now, it’s Henry Ruggs. The 2020 first-round pick is playing how fans wanted to see him last year. Ruggs is getting short passes and getting YAC with his speed and also catching deep balls. Through three weeks, he has eleven catches for 237 yards (leading the team) and a touchdown.
The Chargers on the other hand have Keenan Allen at WR1. In my eyes, he is the most underrated WR in the league. He does everything a great receiver does; great hands, route runner, can catch in traffic, and clutch. While he isn’t currently leading the team in receiving yards, I know better than to have Mike Williams at WR1. Through three weeks, Allen has 258 yards on twenty-one catches and a touchdown. He may be off to a slow start, but that seems to be the case every year.
Darren Waller has been a top-three TE and the Raiders’ number one receiving threat since 2019. In week one that looked to be the case again this year when he had nearly twenty targets and 105 yards. Since then he has seen fourteen targets, catching ten, for 119 yards. On the season, he has reeled in twenty catches for 224 yards and a touchdown.
During the offseason, the Chargers brought in veteran tight end Jared Cook to be their starter after losing Hunter Henry. Jared Cook isn’t the player he once was, but can still get the job down when his name is called. Through three games, Jared Cook has ten catches for 111 yards. So far, the Raiders defense has allowed 142 yards on 17 catches to tight ends, most coming from Gesicki last week.
The Raiders’ defense has looked great through the first three weeks of the season. As I have been saying all offseason, coaching matters a lot more than people give credit for. That, and bringing in players that know the system. Last season, the Raiders had a bottom-five defense in the league in almost every category.
Now, they have a top-fifteen defense. They are middle of the pack when it comes to just about every defensive stat which is all they need to win. The biggest show-outs of the defense have been Maxx Crosby, Casey Hayward, and Denzel Perryman. Crosby is routinely in the offensive backfield, Hayward has been one of the best coverage DBs in the league, and Perryman is a tackle machine.
As for the Chargers, they have allowed the most rushing yards in the league, but have also allowed the seventh least passing yards in the league. When it comes to the other stats, they are about the middle of the pack.
The Raiders and Chargers MNF should be an exciting one. Both teams have started strong, and are fighting for first in the division. I plan on releasing matchups to watch and my game expectations later in the week. I hope you enjoyed it; until next time!