Week 4 has arrived and Monday Night Football is primed to be much more interesting than previously expected. The Los Angeles Chargers will be hosting the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium at 8:30 ET.
The Chargers were likely expecting a fairly easy game against the Raiders before the season. However, the Raiders had an unexpectedly strong start to the 2021 NFL season. The Raiders opened up the season 3-0, now with full possession of the top spot in the AFC West.
The Chargers are off a major win against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game which many expected the Chiefs to utterly dominate. However, the Chargers defense ended up bullying Patrick Mahomes and Co., forcing 4 turnovers by the Chiefs offense. Meanwhile, the Raiders are off a close overtime win against the Miami Dolphins.
As it stands, the spread favors the Chargers by -3. Whether the Chargers even win the matchup is in the air, let alone cover the spread, but let’s take a deeper dive. This is the Chargers-Raiders NFL Week 4 preview.
Another AFC West Showdown
With the Chargers and Raiders facing off, the AFC West will see only their second divisional matchup of the season. Interestingly, the Chargers have been in both of them. Only the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and Detroit Lions have played in 2 divisional games so far.
This matchup will be key in determining the current power dynamic in the AFC West. With the Denver Broncos losing their game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Raiders now are solely in the lead for the division. Meanwhile, the Chargers could leapfrog both the Broncos and Raiders for the division lead with a win on Monday night. Therefore, this matchup’s outcome, surprisingly, is far more impactful and competitive than initially thought.
Matchups to Watch
Rashawn Slater vs. Maxx Crosby
Rashawn Slater has been proving week in and week out that he was an absolute steal at pick 13 in the NFL Draft. His presence at left tackle has been felt for the Chargers offensive line. He has faced off against several elite edge rushers, and yet he has held his ground. Chase Young on the Washington Football Team, Micah Parsons on the Dallas Cowboys, and Chris Jones on the Kansas City Chiefs are all extremely talented players, yet Slater is still playing at a very respectable level.
However, his brutal gauntlet to open the season is not over just yet. Maxx Crosby, the Raiders’ edge rusher, is having a career year, with 10 tackles and 2 sacks. His ability to bully offensive linemen has not gone unnoticed this season. His play this season even earned him the honors of AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. Whether Slater will be able to handle Crosby or not will be a major factor in how successful the Chargers offense is.
Derek Carr vs. Derwin James
Derek Carr is having his own career year for the Raiders. As it stands, Carr is playing some of the best football of his career, and is a candidate for the MVP race this season. He has the most passing yards (1,203) out of any quarterback this season, while throwing for a respectable 6:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With talented weapons like Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow, Carr is ready to take over the league.
Meanwhile, Derwin James is having a pretty solid year himself. It’s nice to finally see him on the field after back-to-back injured seasons. While he hasn’t produced at the same level as his absurd 2018 rookie season, he’s still an elite safety. It also must be taken into consideration that he has played Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes, two of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league, in back-to-back weeks. NOw, he faces Derek Carr, who has been playing on a similar level to those two this season. Will James be able to lead the Chargers defense and shut down the explosive Raiders offense? Or will Carr and the Raiders offense make mincemeat out of the Chargers defense?
- Kenneth Murray Jr. (LB) – OUT (ankle)
- Justin Jones (DT) – OUT (calf)
- Chris Harris Jr. (CB) – QUESTIONABLE (shoulder)
- Bryan Bulaga (OT) – INJURED RESERVE (back)
- Alec Ingold (FB) – QUESTIONABLE (undisclosed)
- Josh Jacobs (RB) – QUESTIONABLE (ankle)
- Gerald McCoy (DT) – OUT (suspension)
- Jalen Richard (RB) – INJURED RESERVE (foot)
This game is going to come down to the wire. Since no one can really tell just how good the Raiders are, it’s difficult to gauge whether this is just a hot streak or if they are legitimate. After all, the Raiders have gone on hot streaks like this in the past, only to crash and burn later on in the season. Regardless, what matters is that they are playing well now. The Chargers will undoubtedly have their hands full with the Raiders.
As for predictions, I believe the Chargers will win in a close, low-scoring game. Since the Chargers and Dallas Cowboys had an unexpectedly-low scoring game, it might be a similar case with the Raiders. The Chargers haven’t proved to be able to pull away from teams when they have the lead, so a blowout is not likely. Therefore, my final score prediction is going to be 24-21 Chargers. This has been the Chargers-Raiders NFL week 4 preview.