The best teams in the NFL find a way to play their best football down the stretch. Josh McDaniels has seemingly discovered the right formula to unlock an offensive juggernaut while defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has found the right combination of personnel and scheme to befuddle opponents over the past few weeks.
With a huge win over their division rival in the books, the Raiders are riding a three-game winning streak heading into the last five games of the season.
After taking some time to review the film and study the box score of the team's 27-20, here are a few thoughts and observations from a former NFL scout…
It is about the players, not the plays
It is not about the Xs and Os, it is the "Jimmys" and "Joes" who determine which teams win and lose each week. Josh McDaniels has seemingly taken that age-old phrase to heart by increasingly relying on his top offensive playmakers (Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams) to spark the Raiders offense.
Although the offensive wizard must tap into his creative side to keep opponents guessing, he has clearly made it a point in recent weeks to make sure that No. 28 and No. 17 touch the ball early and often in games.
Against the Chargers, the simplistic strategy worked again, with the duo combining for 327 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns on 36 total touches. Considering everyone in the stadium knows that the ball is going to Jacobs or Adams, the dominance of the five-star playmakers speaks to their superior talent and skills. The tandem is an unstoppable force, and McDaniels challenges opponents to stop his two best players.
"Whenever you call something (where Adams or Jacobs) has a good chance of touching the football, you feel pretty good about it," McDaniels said in his postgame press conference. "They're the reason for that. They come through over and over again in critical situations.
"Two really gifted football players."
After watching the Raiders win again, relying on their stars to make the plays needed to win, it is apparent that McDaniels has made it a point to give his best players enough touches to take over the game.
Chandler Jones has a breakout game
It has taken longer than anticipated for the veteran defender to dominate a game single-handedly, but Chandler Jones delivered a blockbuster game to Raider Nation.
The two-time All-Pro edge rusher posted a "hat trick" against the Chargers with three sacks, five QB hits and a pair of tackles for loss. The disruptive effort not only destroyed the timing and rhythm of the opponent's passing game, but it prevented Justin Herbert from getting comfortable within the pocket.
With the Chargers intent on slowing down Maxx Crosby, the re-emergence of Jones as a pass-rushing force enabled defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to utilize some counter-tactics to take advantage of the extra attention directed toward No. 98, as evidenced by the Raiders' five-sack total on the day.
If Jones can continue to give the Raiders a pass-rush presence opposite Crosby, the defense could surge with a pair of sack leaders wreaking havoc at the point of attack.
Amik Robertson steps up
The Raiders' much-maligned secondary held its own against the Chargers' vaunted passing attack. Part of their success can be attributed to Amik Robertson winning his individual battle against Keenan Allen on the perimeter.
Although the veteran pass-catcher finished the game with six catches and 88 receiving yards, the third-year cornerback made Allen earn every yard by challenging him throughout the game with a variety of bump-and-run techniques. The constant shadowing not only forced Allen to exert more effort to get open, but it disrupted the timing and rhythm of the Chargers' passing game and prompted Justin Herbert to target other receivers when he did not have enough time to wait on his No. 1 receiver to shake free on a quick-hitting route.
The combination of aggressive coverage and a destructive pass rush helped the Raiders slow down a high-powered offense that has destroyed opponents through the air. With the Raiders getting improved performance and production from Robertson, Graham might be able to utilize a few more tricks to slow down the explosive offenses remaining on the schedule.
Get an exclusive look at the gameday entertainment from the Raiders' Week 13 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium.