Monthly Magazine: Nevada Edition

September 26, 2023

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This old-school rivalry dates back to 1960, when the Raiders and Chargers were charter members of the American Football League. It’s survived multiple moves to various cities, maintaining its intensity through the years.

The latest installment sees a pair of 1-2 teams facing off, but they’re heading in different directions. After avoiding an 0-3 start with a last gasp win at Minnesota, Los Angeles feels like it’s trending toward becoming the Super Bowl contender everyone expected. Following back-to-back losses, Las Vegas is plummeting toward the cellar in the AFC West.

Both head coaches have already been on the hot seat this season. Brandon Staley has been answering questions about last year’s playoff meltdown, while Josh McDaniels has been trending on social media, and not in a Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce sort of way.

Will recent trends continue? Or can the Raiders pull the upset?

What to like about the Raiders…

  • After getting blown out by the Bills in Week 2, Las Vegas put up a valiant effort against the Steelers on “Sunday Night Football.” The game came down to the wire, but the Raiders ultimately fell 23-18 in front of a crowd at Allegiant Stadium that was packed with Pittsburgh fans waving Terrible Towels. It was a gutty effort by the “home” team, giving them something to build upon.
  • The Chargers can’t stop anyone. They’re giving up 450.7 yards per game, second only to Denver for the worst mark in the league. They’re dead last against the pass, giving up 337.0 yards per game through the air. That’ll provide plenty of opportunities for Jimmy Garoppolo and Davante Adams to make big plays. They’ll have to if the Raiders hope to keep up with the high-powered Chargers.

What not to like about the Raiders…

  • The Chargers have the second-most prolific offense in the league, behind only the Dolphins. They’re averaging 416.7 yards per game, with most of their success coming through the air. Justin Herbert has thrown for 939 yards through just three games, tossing six touchdowns and zero interceptions thus far. Keenan Allen is a big-time target, as the wideout has amassed 402 yards and two scores already this season.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo has been a turnover machine thus far in silver and black. The quarterback has put up some decent numbers, throwing for 709 yards and five touchdowns through the first three games of the season. But he’s also tossed a league-high six interceptions. If he continues to do that, killing Las Vegas drives and setting up Los Angeles with good field position, it’ll be a long day for the Raiders.

Steve Quinne’s Pick: Los Angeles -5.5 (-110)

The Chargers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, despite their porous defense. That’s how good Justin Herbert and company are on offense. The Raiders, meanwhile, are going to struggle to reach .500 this season. That’s how mediocre Jimmy Garoppolo is behind center. Los Angeles will get things righted with a win, while Las Vegas will head in the direction most expected when the season began.