Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders matchups, how to watch and prediction

Los Angeles Chargers running back Joshua Kelley (25) during the first half of an NFL football game.
Chargers running back Joshua Kelley catches a pass against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 27. The Chargers look to keep their playoff hopes on track with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (6-5) and the Las Vegas Raiders (4-7) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PST on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. The game will be shown on CBS (Ch. 2) and streamed on Paramount+ and NFL+.

When Chargers have the ball

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws the winning two-point conversion pass against the Arizona Cardinals.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws the winning two-point conversion pass against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 27. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Particularly with a running game that has been unreliable, the Chargers figure to lean heavily on Justin Herbert against a Las Vegas defense that ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass. Seattle’s Geno Smith threw for 328 yards against the Raiders last weekend.

Unleashing Herbert can’t happen if the Chargers don’t protect him, something that will be complicated by the presence of Maxx Crosby, who is fourth in the NFL in sacks.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was asked how much game-planning the Chargers will do for Crosby. “A ton,” he said. “He’s a guy that can just completely ruin your day. Just someone that we are going to be aware of. Him being on the field and where he is and what play we are running, we are taking a player like that into account every single play.”

The Chargers scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final minute to beat Arizona 25-24 in Week 12. But, for the season, they still have scored more points in the second quarter (133) than they have in the other three quarters and overtime (119) combined.

Finding some balance certainly would help but consistency hasn’t been a Chargers’ strength.

When Raiders have the ball

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Josh Jacobs leads the NFL with 1,159 yards rushing. That’s more than double of the Chargers’ leader, Austin Ekeler, who has 554. Jacobs ran for 229 yards last weekend in an overtime victory at Seattle.

The Chargers have surrendered an average of 183 yards on the ground over their last five games, a porous stretch that has sent them down to 28th in rushing defense. Given all that information, the Raiders’ strategy entering this game would appear obvious.

“They have an elite runner that breaks a lot of tackles,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “You can’t block everything perfectly. You have to have running backs that can create on their own. Josh is as good as anybody at that because he can make you miss and he can run through you.”

Jacobs had a single-game season-low-tying 10 carries when the teams met at SoFi Stadium in Week 1, a 24-19 Chargers win. That day, Las Vegas fell behind by two touchdowns in the second quarter and largely went away from its running game.

A mix of Jacobs and Derek Carr-to-DaVante Adams would make for the Raiders’ ideal afternoon. Adams caught 10 passes for 141 yards against the Chargers in that Week 1 game.

When they kick

Rookie Cameron Dicker is eight of eight on both field-goal and extra-point attempts in four games as an injury replacement.

The Chargers have used three kickers and the trio has made 42 consecutive attempts, counting both field goals and extra points. The only miss was a 49-yard try by Dustin Hopkins in Week 1.

When these teams met in Week 18 last season in Vegas, the Raiders’ Daniel Carlson kicked five field goals, including the winner as time expired in overtime.

Jeff Miller’s prediction: At the beginning of the week, this felt like a Chargers’ loss, especially without Mike Williams (ankle) and 40% of the offensive line, center Corey Linsley (concussion) and right tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee). But just when you think you’ve figured things out ...


This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.