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Versus: Rivalry matchup between the Raiders, Chargers could be determined in the trenches

The Silver and Black are riding major momentum heading into Sunday's game at Allegiant Stadium.

The Raiders have reeled off two straight overtime victories, in part to heroics from Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. The last time the two teams met was Week 1 in SoFi Stadium, with the Chargers narrowly defeating the Raiders, 24-19. Both teams look vastly different than they did nearly three months ago, as this divisional matchup is on pace to be another down to the wire battle.

Here's a trio of matchups on the line of scrimmage to closely follow.

Josh Jacobs & Zamir White vs. Chargers run defense

I case you missed it, Josh Jacobs had 303 total yards of offense last Sunday.

The running back has been a man on a mission, currently leading the league in rushing yards. Week 1 was his second lowest rushing yard total in 2022. Since, he's rushed for over 100 yards and at least one touchdown in five separate games. His career-high day in Seattle consisted of 229 rushing yards and an 86-yard run to the house in walk-off fashion.

The Silver and Black may be careful with Jacobs this week as he's still nursing a calf injury suffered before the Seahawks game. In the case that he doesn't play or his snaps are limited, Zamir White could be the next man up out the backfield. The rookie out of Georgia is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the season, with 28 rushing yards on two carries against the Seahawks. Regardless of Jacobs' status for Sunday, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi is pleased with how the running back room prepares for each game.

"They all hold each other accountable, and they really want to make sure that they're all prepared and ready to go because you never know when your time is going to get called upon," Lombardi said Tuesday. "Like in the game in Seattle, Josh was carrying the ball and needed a blow, so Zamir got in there and it didn't change what we were doing as an offense and he got a couple of touches and took advantage of them. So, credit to him. ... I think the accountability factor from the room, and from Coach Kennedy [Polamalu] and just the whole offense, is really something that helps Zamir grow as young player."

It could be in the Raiders' best interest to get the run going against the Chargers, as their defense is allowing the most yards per carry and the fifth most rushing yards per game this season across the league.

Raiders interior defensive line vs. Justin Herbert

While Maxx Crosby has been reaping the benefits of getting after the quarterback, he's been getting a lot of help recently from his teammates deep in the trenches.

The play of the defensive line has elevated in recent weeks, with the unit being responsible for 16 quarterback hits and three sacks in the past two wins. Adding Jerry Tillery, who is preparing to face his former team, has played dividends for the interior pass rush. He's been a big piece to the puzzle along with Kyle Peko (when elevated from practice squad), Bilal Nichols and Andrew Billings – who had a sack and an 88.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last week.

"I know those guys work really hard and have just been trying to improve their pass rush," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said of the interior defensive line. "Coach [McDaniels] made a big emphasis for Seattle in terms of, 'Let's get in the middle of the pocket and get in Geno's [Smith] face.' And those guys went out and executed one of the musts for the game.

"Wasn't every play, but we had enough plays where they were in Geno's face, and that's one of the musts that coach identified that we needed to do to win the game. And as you can see, two weeks in a row, guys are trying to hit the musts as much as possible, and we were able to execute it."

Getting after the quarterback will be vital once again against the Chargers, as they prepare to face Pro Bowler Justin Herbert for the second time this season. In their Week 1 encounter, Herbert threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns with a 76.47 completion percentage. He also wasn't sacked.

"He could throw the ball. He can throw it to any part of the field. Great arm strength," Graham said about Herbert. "You see the intelligence in terms of getting in and out of plays, you see that. And then obviously, once you start getting some years under you, he's seen a bunch of looks, the experience comes. You've got to make sure you're disguising certain looks. The growth of a young quarterback with all the physical skills and the mental capability is tough."

Raiders secondary vs. Keenan Allen

Week 1 against the Raiders, five-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen had 66 receiving yards in the first half before suffering a hamstring injury that forced him to miss eight games.

The lingering injury for the talented receiver has been tough for the Chargers, but he's starting to ease back into things, with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in his previous two games.

The Raiders secondary will have the task of containing Allen, but could possibly have some help from Nate Hobbs who was designated to return off IR last week. According to Head Coach Josh McDaniels, an illness kept him from being activated to the roster before the Seahawks game. With a good week of practice with no setbacks for Hobbs, he could potentially see the field this Sunday for the first time since Week 5.

With Hobbs on IR, the secondary has seen production from Rock Ya-Sin, Amik Robertson and UDFA rookie cornerback Sam Webb. It will take a village to go after Allen, who's averaged six catches and 66 yards a game in his career against the Raiders.

View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' Week 12 win against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.

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