Monday Night Football Preview: Raiders @ Chargers
The Week 4 Monday night matchup features the 3-0 Raiders traveling to Southern California to take on the 2-1 Chargers. Both teams have looked great so far this team, exceeding many's expectations. Both teams are coming off of big wins. The Raiders hung on in overtime to defeat Miami last week, while the Chargers beat out the KC Chiefs.
The Chargers appear to have taken another step in the right direction so far this year. Last year's offensive rookie of the year, Justin Herbert, has looked mature beyond his years. The biggest difference I've seen is his comfort level in the pocket. Last season, Herbert had a tendency to panic and move backwards when the pocket collapsed, often leading to debilitating sacks. So far this season, Herbert seems to have corrected that issue. He is more often stepping up in the pocket and creating time and space for him to make his reads and ultimately connect with his receivers. Speaking of his receivers...let's talk about Keenan Allen. He might be he most underrated player in the entire NFL. Year in and year out, he is a top five WR in the entire league. He is deadly in the red zone and has a unique talent for going up and coming down with those jump ball fades in the back of the endzone. He's been held to just one TD on the season so far, but recorded over 100 reception yards in each of their last two games. Look for him to have a potential breakout against this Raider's secondary. The Chargers are humming so far this season the only thing missing is my favorite mascot in NFL history, BoltMan. (Bring him back, you cowards!)
Similarly to their opponent, the Raiders also seem to have taken a big step forward this season. Derek Carr has been fantastic working within Gruden's West Coast offense. Moving to Vegas last year seems to have given this entire organization a bit off a jolt. This was a team playing in the most run-down stadium in the league with a literal baseball diamond in the middle of it as of two years ago. Proposed relocations had been a distraction for the entire franchise basically ever since they moved back to Oakland in 1995. Now, they are playing in a state of the art building in front of a passionate Las Vegas fanbase that's hungry for winners, especially after the success of the NHL's expansion Golden Knights the past few years. They come into this game undefeated and having beaten some pretty fierce competition. Something about the Raiders being good is awesome for the NFL as a whole. Although the last decade plus has seen them be mostly irrelevant, seeing the black and silver grinding out wins on Sunday brings back classic NFL Films memories. Roll the damn tape!
My pick: Raiders +3
This is a great matchup that I'm looking forward to tomorrow night. I think this game is going to be close no matter what. These two teams match up fantastically against each other. I have gone back and forth all day, but I have finally landed on the Raiders +3. This could be a matchup where the team who has the ball last wins, and with such little to separate these two squads talent-wise, I am going to have to take the road dog in this spot.