The win over the Detroit Lions was cool and all, but the Oakland Raiders’ attention has now shifted to the Los Angeles Chargers.
After a really rough start to 2019, the Bolts have surged as of late, and coming off back-to-back wins, they’ll fly into Oakland with no shortage of confidence.
It’s always a battle when these two AFC West foes get together, so here are three key matchups to watch once the lights go on.
Joey Bosa vs. Kolton Miller
There is only one man who has lined up on the offensive line for all eight of the Raiders’ contests in 2019 – left tackle Kolton Miller.
After a rookie campaign that wasn’t short on highs or lows, Miller has been a constant force protecting Derek Carr’s blindside this year, and considering the ever-changing lineups that the Silver and Black have been forced to implement up front, No. 74 has been practically irreplaceable week in and week out.
And as good as the Silver and Black’s offensive line has been – only the Pittsburgh Steelers have surrendered fewer sacks – Miller, and the rest of his friends, will have their collective hands full trying to slow down Joey Bosa.
Now in his fourth NFL season, the former Ohio State Buckeye has been on a tear as of late, recording five-and-a-half sacks over his past three ballgames.
Miller was selected in the first round of last year’s draft to shut down players just like Bosa, and with Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown’s availability still up in the air for Thursday, much will be asked of the former UCLA Bruin.
Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow vs. Melvin Gordon
Stopping the run is critical every week, but against a player like Melvin Gordon – and with an offense as dynamic as the Chargers’ can be – that job will be even more paramount to victory on Thursday night.
After missing the first four games of 2019 – then taking a few weeks to get his legs back under him –Gordon has looked very much like the Pro Bowl back that he is.
Over the past two games, Gordon has found the end zone three times, and while his total yardage might not be overly impressive, he’s being efficient with his touches, as he’s averaged just under 4.0 yards per carry since Week 8.
As far as the Raiders are concerned, it’s no secret that the team – Paul Guenther’s defense in particular – has dealt with their fair share of injuries, and the linebacking corps is no exception to that rule.
Whitehead and Morrow – while likely neither 100 percent at this juncture of the season – have been steadying forces in the middle of the defense, and if they’re able to limit Gordon’s yardage, it would be a huge benefit to the Silver and Black’s defensive unit as a whole.
Tyrell Williams vs. Casey Hayward
Every game on the NFL schedule is an important one, and primetime games seem to naturally increase the intensity of the evening, but I have a feeling that Tyrell Williams is going to remember this Week 10 clash with the Chargers for quite some time.
The athletic wideout started his career with the then-San Diego Chargers, and spent the first four seasons of his career with the Bolts before signing with the Raiders as a free agent.
That said, he’s now firmly entrenched as a key part in the Silver and Black’s offense, and as much as Head Coach Jon Gruden likes to run the ball, make no mistake about it, Williams is clearly a WR1 for the Raiders.
The Chargers defense – now led by Gus Bradley – is one of the best units in the league at defending the pass, so things won’t come easily for Williams and the Raiders’ offense.
And as far as Hayward is concerned, he’s still a top flight NFL cornerback, so seeing him and Williams go back and forth for 60 minutes will be something worth watching.
Take a look at the the best images from the Raiders' Week 9 victory over the Detroit Lions in their return to the Coliseum.