We are nearing the finish line on the 2021 NFL regular season. The league decided to create a schedule that featured divisional games to close things out with a bang. These matchups could have playoff implications. One game that will have a lot of attention will be the Los Angeles Chargers against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The winner of this game will qualify for the postseason. The winner will also be the second team to represent the AFC West once the playoffs start. The other is the Kansas City Chiefs. However, there is a scenario where both the Chargers and Raiders can kneel in a tie and will qualify for the playoffs.
The scenario could occur if the Jacksonville Jaguars were to eliminate the Indianapolis Colts from playoff contention. 2021 has been one of the most bizarre seasons in NFL history, but I do not believe that the Jaguars will pull off the upset this Sunday. Without further delay, let us look at the keys to the game for the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders.
Chargers Keys to the Game
In the first matchup between the Raiders and Chargers, Los Angeles dominated Las Vegas from start to finish. It was too late when the Raiders attempted to make things interesting. The Chargers would go on to win 28-14. During the first contest between the two teams, the Chargers rattled LV on the ground and through the air. Austin Ekeler had one of his best performances when he rushed for 117 yards on 15 carries. Justin Herbert threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns. At the time, both teams were undefeated and would go on to have seasons that were filled with ups and downs.
For the Chargers to have a repeat performance of the Monday night game, Herbert will need to identify cracks in the Raiders’ defense. Their defense has improved significantly except for the two blowout losses to the Chiefs. Ekleler will need to be utilized in various ways because Las Vegas will be keyed in on stopping him from having another big game. Playmakers such as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams must also become factors in Sunday’s game.
Raiders Keys to the Game
One of the biggest takeaways of the Monday night game in Los Angeles was that the Raiders allowed tight end Jared Cook, to become a factor. At the time, they had already given up over 100 yards rushing. Cook torched them for 70 yards on six catches and one touchdown.
Their defense cannot allow that to happen again. On offense, Derek Carr must have an exceptional performance for LV to succeed. He threw for 196 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception the last meeting. Carr’s most significant weapon in the passing game, Darren Waller, must be utilized in a way where the Chargers may have a difficult time stopping him.
Without questions, he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. His presence on the field could go a long way for the Raiders. To minimize the number of opportunities that Herbert is on the field, the Raiders must be patient and get the football into the hands of Josh Jacobs. If he can run the football effectively, then the Raiders may shift the momentum in their corner.
The Chargers are very fun to watch when everything is clicking on offense. However, their defense has not been consistent enough to be the well-oiled machine that they can become. The Raiders defense has played a lot better in their final games of the season, despite what the statistics may indicate. Unfortunately, for the Chargers, it will be another year before they become a serious threat in the AFC. The Raiders win by eight.