The Raiders and Chargers will run it back Week 1 following their win-or-go-home overtime clash last season. While it's hard to throw out the emotions attached to that game from January, both of these teams look vastly different. The Silver and Black have a new coaching staff and superstar additions in Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, while the Chargers made some splashy moves this offseason to their defense to complement their loaded offense. In the Chargers' 62-year history, they've never hosted the Raiders in a season opening matchup, until now.
Here are a few games within the game that will be ones to watch in the season opener in SoFi Stadium.
Maxx Crosby & Chandler Jones vs. Joey Bosa & Khalil Mack
The battle between these edge rushing duos is perhaps the biggest matchup to look out for in this game. Crosby has been a thorn in Justin Herbert's side the past two seasons, delivering an AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance the last time the two met. Now Crosby has generational edge rusher Chandler Jones beside him, who has seven seasons with double-digit sacks in his career.
Things won't be easier for Derek Carr on the other side of the ball though. He'll face longtime rival Joey Bosa, who's sacked him eight times in his career. Bosa teams up with Carr's former teammate, Khalil Mack. This will be the second straight season Mack faces the Raiders, with eight total tackles and a sack in the Bears' 20-9 victory over the Silver and Black in 2021.
"It's not easy. They're two incredible football players, and again, I can say that about a lot of guys on their team," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said about Bosa and Mack. "They have a tremendous amount of talent. This is probably one of the most talented teams we're going to play all year, if not the most talented."
Davante Adams vs. Asante Samuel Jr.
Everyone was preparing for this matchup to be Davante Adams vs. J.C. Jackson – until about a week ago.
The All-Pro receiver was primed to be against the Chargers' big free agency cornerback signing, who had eight interceptions and 23 pass deflections last season. However, Jackson recently underwent ankle surgery and is considered day-to-day, according to Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley.
If the Pro Bowl cornerback doesn't play, Adams will still have some quality competition to go against in SoFi Stadium. The Chargers will heavily rely on second-year standout Asante Samuel Jr, who had 43 total tackles, 11 pass deflections and two interceptions his rookie season. He's also the son of former cornerback Asante Samuel, who won two Super Bowls with Josh McDaniels as a member of the New England Patriots.
"[H]e reminds me of his dad," McDaniels said of Samuel Jr. "I was actually on the defensive side when we drafted Asante (Sr.) in New England, so I spent a lot of time with Asante. Obviously, a great player and a guy that made a lot of impactful plays. And so, he's taught his son well.
"He's got quick feet. He sees and diagnoses things very quickly when he's around the ball. He's got great ball skills like a receiver, like his dad did. He's a guy that you better be aware of where he's at all times."
Silver and Black run attack vs. Bolts interior defensive line
The one thing the Chargers struggled with last season, especially against the Raiders, was stopping the run.
The Chargers defense surrendered the third-most rushing yards in the league, including 174 to the Raiders in the season finale. This should be another point of emphasis between the two teams as they both seemingly bolstered those areas this offseason.
The Raiders carry five running backs, as well as fullback Jakob Johnson, on the roster going into Week 1. McDaniels and company added veteran playmakers Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah to compliment 2020 Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs. They also drafted two quality running backs in Zamir White from Georgia and Brittain Brown from UCLA. The Silver and Black averaged nearly 132 rushing yards per game in the preseason.
As for the Chargers, they signed two talented defensive tackles to help stop the run in Austin Johnson from the New York Giants and Sebastian Joseph-Day from the Super Bowl champion Los Angles Rams. The duo combined for 6.5 sacks last season. Additionally, they drafted Otito Ogbonnia, Brittain Brown's former teammate at UCLA. The fifth-round pick had five TFLs and two sacks in his senior season.
The Raiders hit the practice field at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as they prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.