There’s something special about when the Raiders and Chargers do battle.
Throw in the fact that both teams are coming off a win, and what’s already one of the games you should have circled on your calendar becomes even more entertaining.
Both the Raiders and the Bolts are looking to build off big wins in Week 4, so let’s take a look at a few key matchups that will play a role in who eventually wins the clash at StubHub Center.
Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker vs. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa
All eyes will be on the Raiders rookies tackles Sunday afternoon, and for good reason too.
Kolton Miller was thrown into the fire Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, and while Parker got his first extended NFL taste last weekend against the Browns – stepping in for an injured Donald Penn – squaring up for a full 60 minutes against a very tough Chargers front will be a whole different story.
“I love Donald [Penn] so I’ll miss him for however long that is,” said Derek Carr. “With Brandon [Parker], everyone knows how we feel about him around here. He’s really good. I’m sure he had a couple plays as a rookie that he’d want back but you live with that. He’s very intelligent, so crazy looks and things like that aren’t going to mess with him. He’s one of the smartest rookies I’ve ever been around.
Now, with just eight sacks through four games, the pass rush for the Bolts hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Joey Bosa has yet to suit up in a regular season game.
Regardless of whether or not Bosa does indeed play Sunday – his status is still uncertain – Parker and Miller are going to be busy in Los Angeles.
I’m excited to see how they respond.
Derek Carr vs. Philip Rivers
If you like offense, Sunday is the game for you.
Entering Sunday’s battle royale in Southern California, the Raiders rank second (441.8 YPG) in total offense, while the Chargers rank ninth (403.5); so like I said before, if you like points, make sure you’re locked in at 1:05 p.m. on October 7.
It’s kind of become the rule of thumb around the NFL; an offense only goes as far as its quarterback takes it, and I think both the Raiders and Chargers fall into that category.
“He’s a great talent,” Head Coach Jon Gruden said of Rivers. “He’s a son of a coach. He has all the intangibles. The work ethic, the personal drive, the commitment to be great. He’s got one of the quickest releases that you’ll ever see. He’s as tough as they get. He has all the talent to make all the throws. He’s the terminator. He won’t go away. He just will not quit.”
Year after year, Rivers continues to put up big numbers, and with 11 touchdown passes already under his belt – compared to just two interceptions – the veteran gunslinger is showing no signs of slowing down.
Derek Carr is coming off a big game himself, so keep an eye on the QBs; two men will enter the arena Sunday afternoon, but only one can leave the victor.
Matt McCrane, Trent Sieg, and Johnny Townsend vs. Donnie Jones, Caleb Sturgis and Mike Windt
Much like the Silver and Black, the Chargers have undergone some drastic changes to their special teams battery in recent days.
While the Raiders head into Week 5 once again with a trio of rookie specialists handling the kicking duties, the Bolts come into the game with a new holder/punter (Donnie Jones) – although each member of that trio has a plethora of experience under their belt.
We saw firsthand just a week ago the importance of having precise execution in the final moments of a game, so make sure don’t sleep on the specialists from either of these two squads.
Will Sunday’s game in LA come down to who converts on a kick? We’ll just have to wait and find out.