1. Lose, and they still might be in
It's very clear that all the Raiders need to do is win to make it into the playoffs. Easier said than done, but that's their current dilemma.
The road to the playoffs become a little tricker if the Raiders don't find a way to beat the Chargers. The Silver and Black would then need the Jacksonville Jaguars to defeat the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers. If both of those teams win their games, the Raiders secure a playoff berth no matter what happens Sunday in Allegiant Stadium.
2. Can the defense stop Justin Herbert?
While Justin Herbert is an exceptional quarterback, the Raiders pass defense has been equally exceptional this season. The Raiders have allowed the seventh fewest passing yards this season. They've also only allowed one rushing touchdown to a quarterback this season and have 104 quarterback hits this season, the fourth most in the NFL.
In Week 4 against the Raiders, Justin Herbert completed less than 60 percent of his passes after the first drive of the game, and was sacked twice.
"[H]e's such a physical threat in all areas," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about Herbert on Thursday. "I mean the ability to throw, he keeps his eyes downfield. Very accurate, very confident man back there, and then his ability to run. ... So, he's got a unique skill set, and I'm sure there's some adjustment for him to learning a new offense, but his skill set, you just see him really utilizing all of it."
3. Be aware of Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler will be another player in the Chargers offense that the Raiders defense will have to contain. He's their 'do-it-all' running back, as evident by his stats. On the season, Ekeler has 847 rushing yards, 612 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns – two of those 18 came against the Raiders in Week 4.
"He's very talented and it's not just he runs the ball. He's stronger than he appears, he runs with his pads behind him," said Bradley. "He does a good job of start and stop, and then his ability as a receiver. Multiple games where he's had over 100-plus yards running and receiving the ball, so he creates some issues.
"The matchups that he has, like I said, angle routes, flat routes, go balls. I mean he'll line up in empty and run a double move on you. So, at times he's treated like another receiver, and he can be a matchup issue. ... We just have to have really good awareness and be aware of our matchups."
4. Waiting all day for a Sunday Night
With the playoff implications on the line for both teams, the game was flexed to primetime, making it the last game of the 2021 NFL regular season.
Throughout history, the Silver and Black have found a way to get the job done under the bright lights when facing the Chargers. Since 1970, the Raiders hold a 16-12 overall record against the Chargers in primetime games (games starting after 7 p.m. ET), according to STATS Inc.
5. Living in the trenches
Derek Carr must play exceptional football in order to beat the Chargers this Sunday. And in order for him to be at his best, he needs his offensive line to be at their best.
While Carr has a 3-2 record against the Chargers in his past five games against them, he's been sacked at least once in each of those games. The responsibilities of keeping Carr clean in the pocket will fall on the hands of his bend, but don't break offensive line – led by left tackle Kolton Miller. Miller has been crucial for the Silver and Black this season, earning a 83 PFF grade.
"I feel like we've moved some guys around. We've really stepped up, we've grown as lot as a group through the year," Miller said about his offensive line teammates. "I hope we can keep building and finish off this regular season this Sunday."
QB Derek Carr
- 72 passing yards away from breaking the franchise record for single-season passing yards, set by Rich Gannon in 2002 (4,689 yards)
K Daniel Carlson
- One field goal away from the all-time single-season record for made field goals in franchise history. He is currently tied with Jeff Jaeger (35 in 1993).
- Twelve points away from breaking his own single-season franchise record for most points scored in a season (144)
LB Denzel Perryman
- Needs two tackles to break the single-season total tackles record of 146 set back in 1998 by Greg Biekert.
WR Hunter Renfrow
- Needs one catch to become just the second wide receiver in franchise history to record at least 100 receptions in a single season, joining Tim Brown (104 receptions in 1997).
- Needs six catches to break Tim Brown's record of most receptions by a Raiders wide receiver
- Needs nine catches to break the franchise single-season receptions record set by Darren Waller in 2020 (107 receptions).
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.