Who's the Guy… Justin Herbert
The Chargers have a five-star playmaker at quarterback. Justin Herbert is not only the new prototype at the position, but he is making a strong push to be considered the NFL's QB1 based on his physical tools and production. As the director of a wide-open attack that creates and exploits favorable mismatches on the perimeter, Herbert plays in attack mode for 60 minutes. The third-year pro is not afraid to squeeze throws into tight windows or make the occasional "hero" throw down the field into double coverage. Although he wins his fair share of 50/50 balls due to his superior arm talent, touch and range, Herbert's gunslinging ways could lead to some turnover opportunities for the Raiders.
Don't Sleep On… DeAndre Carter and Joshua Palmer
The unheralded pass catchers have filled in admirably for Mike Williams and Keenan Allen while the all-star duo has battled injuries throughout the season. Carter and Palmer have combined for 88 catches, 1,004 receiving yards and six scores as super-subs in the passing game on the perimeter. Although they are not jump-ball specialists like their teammates, each playmaker displays enough wiggle to win against one-on-one coverage in space. With Herbert willing to target anyone within the progression, Carter and Palmer have been able to carve out roles as "chain movers" – with or without the veterans on the field.
Know His Name… Austin Ekeler
The Chargers' standout back has already amassed 1,000-plus scrimmage yards as an unstoppable runner-receiver on the perimeter. Ekeler's combination of speed, quickness, power and burst enable him to win on outside runs or option routes in the passing game. As a dynamic weapon out of the backfield, the veteran creates mismatches against linebackers and safeties in space. Considering how the Chargers like to put the ball in Ekeler's hands in key moments, the Raiders must keep their eyes on No. 30 at all times.
Under Pressure... Storm Norton
Storm Norton will square off against Maxx Crosby or Chandler Jones on the edges in a series of one-on-one pass rush snaps that could determine whether the Chargers can move the ball consistently. Although the fourth-year vet has logged plenty of snaps throughout his career, the matchup against a pair of elite pass rushers will test his balance, body control and lateral quickness.
Matchup To Watch: Kyle Van Noy vs. Josh Jacobs
After watching Josh Jacobs total 300-plus scrimmage yards in Week 12, the Chargers will make stopping the veteran the No. 1 defensive priority, if he plays on his questionable game tag. Van Noy could play a key role in defending Jacobs as an off-the-ball linebacker positioned between the tackles. As a veteran defender with a high IQ and superb diagnostic skills, Van Noy may shadow the Raiders' top playmaker in an attempt to keep him under wraps for 60 minutes.
The Chargers want to put the ball in the hands of their superstar quarterback as much as possible to allow the playmaker to make his mark on the game as a passer. Justin Herbert can push the ball down the field to stretch the defense before attacking the underneath areas with an assortment of crossing routes to a collection of "catch-and-run" specialists on the perimeter. With Austin Ekeler supplementing the passing game as a productive change of pace back, the Chargers could win with quick strikes or utilizing a ball-control strategy to drain the clock for four quarters.
Brandon Staley wants to play two-high safeties to limit big plays while attacking the run with "light" boxes. When the Chargers can control the trenches with their defensive line, the umbrella tactics frustrate quarterbacks and play callers intent on producing explosive plays. If the Chargers are able to contain Josh Jacobs on the ground, they could also force Derek Carr to utilize a "dink-and-dunk" strategy to move the ball down the field on a series of short passes. Given the odds of a negative play on an extended drive (10 plays or more), the Chargers will want to make the Raiders earn every yard with a bend-but-don't-break defensive plan.
As the Raiders prepare for Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium, view past matchups of the Silver and Black hosting their division rival.