Derek Carr vs. Joey Bosa
In what has been another strong season for Derek Carr, the Raiders' playoffs hopes rest on the outcome of this Sunday's contest.
Carr holds the franchise record for most career passing yards and is 72 passing yards away from breaking the franchise record for single-season passing yards. Yet the eighth-year quarterback has yet to play in a playoff game. In 2016, Carr helped the Raiders to a 12-4 season, but broke his ankle before the start of the playoffs, thus still yearning for that opportunity to lead the Silver and Black into the postseason healthy.
The last obstacle in Carr's way to the NFL playoffs is the Los Angeles Chargers defense, and one of his biggest rivals: Joey Bosa. This season, Bosa has recorded 9.5 sacks and six forced fumbles, and earned first Pro Bowl selection as an outside linebacker – after playing defensive end all of his NFL career. The last time Bosa went up against Carr, he got a strip sack on him.
"We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook," Bosa said about Carr after their Week 4 encounter. "Great dude, great player ... but we know once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down."
In response to those comments earlier in the season, Carr is eager to face the linebacker again.
"He's a very aggressive, very good football player," Carr said about Bosa Wednesday afternoon. "He's one of the best in the world – and it's the nature of the defensive line position to be aggressive, and that's how he is. I haven't talked to him [since Week 4]. I'll always talk to him during the game, I'll probably trash talk with him more. But I think the world of Joey. ... I wish him the best always, except this week that's for sure."
Denzel Perryman vs. Austin Ekeler
Denzel Perryman and Austin Ekeler are both players that find a way to get to the ball, which makes this out to be a great matchup.
Ekeler is such a dangerous weapon in the Chargers offense because of the different ways they get him the ball. The running back leads the team in yards from scrimmage (1,459) with a total of 18 touchdowns this season. He's also the only Charger that is top three on the team in catches, carries, rushing yards and receiving yards. The man can simply do it all.
Ekeler's do-it-all ability could be compromised this Sunday after a couple of big hits from his former teammate. Perryman has been one of the Raiders' biggest playmakers on defense this year, and arguably the team's best run-stopper. On the season, Perryman has 145 total tackles, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries. His career season has also been recognized with his first career Pro Bowl selection.
"He's a very, very vocal leader, bringing physicality every play," Yannick Ngakoue said of Perryman. "That guy does a great job of making sure everyone is lined up on defense. There's no surprise to the success he's having right now."
The last time the Raiders played the Chargers in Week 4, Ekeler finished with 145 total yards of offense – the most he's had in a game this season. Stopping Ekeler should pay dividends for Perryman and the team in their quest to the playoffs.
Brandon Facyson vs. Mike Williams
Mike Williams has been problematic for many cornerbacks this season, largely due to his combination of size and speed.
The Chargers receiver has been having his best season in the NFL, setting career highs in catches (67) and receiving yards (1,027), along with eight receiving touchdowns. The chemistry he's been able to develop with Justin Herbert has been remarkable – connecting for nearly 1,800 receiving yards since Herbert became the starting QB.
Williams is a huge matchup challenge with his 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame – but that shouldn't be a problem for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Brandon Facyson.
Facyson has also been having a standout season, after he was signed off the Chargers' practice squad in October. In Facyson's 11 games played and eight starts in the Silver and Black, he's compiled a team-leading 11 pass deflections along with an interception. The cornerback out of Virginia Tech was signed to the Raiders for matchups like this – to use his lengthy frame to go up against big bodied receivers. Not to mention he's had his fair share of snaps against Williams in their three years as teammates in Los Angeles.
While this may not be the most high-profile matchup to look out for, it's definitely one that could impact the game.
With the Silver and Black's season finale moved to Sunday Night Football, take a look back at some of the top moments from primetime games in Raiders history.