Getting To Know The Chargers Week Four Opponent: Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders social media team mistakenly puts picture up of Ken Wisenhunt after hiring Gus Bradley.

Getting To Know The Chargers Week Four Opponent: Las Vegas Raiders

The Los Angeles Chargers are coming off a monumental victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week. It has the potential to be a tone-setting win for the rest of the season for a team with playoff aspirations. They will have the chance to build upon that momentum in a primetime matchup with the Raiders on Monday Night Football. If they are able to win, the Chargers have the chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC West (with a Broncos loss as well).

Let’s get to know the Las Vegas Raiders.

2020 Season In Review

In a nutshell, last year was a roller coaster for the Raiders and can serve as a bit of a cautionary tale for the 2021 Chargers. They started the season 2-2 and headed to Kansas City in Week Five of the season. They were able to pull off the upset, similar to this year’s Chargers team, and for a moment it gave the Raiders a nice surge. They won three of their next four games and were sitting pretty at 6-3 after beating the Denver Broncos. 

A rematch with the Chiefs was on tap for Week Eleven, and the Chiefs came out on top. The Raiders then ended up losing five of their last seven games and finished the season at 8-8. The loss to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football put an end to their 2020 playoff hopes. 

The Raiders ended the 2020 season with a lot more questions than answers and entered the most important offseason of the Jon Gruden era.

Key Additions And Departures

Gruden and Mike Mayock made a lot of noise this offseason, and similar to the previous season it was a lot of good and a lot of bad. They were caught in the crosshairs of the Aaron Rodgers rumor-tour, they released and then traded Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, and released Trent Brown. They hired Gus Bradley to be their new defensive coordinator but announced it with a picture of Ken Wisenhunt. Along with that came the Bradley reunion tour and signings of Casey Hayward, Darius Philon, Asmar Bilal, Roderic Teamer, and (much later) Denzel Perryman

The Raiders obviously overhauled their offensive line after the aforementioned decision. They used their first-round pick on former Alabama standout Alex Leatherwood to replace Brown at right tackle. Former UCLA standout Andre James is starting at center in place of Hudson. The hope for those two young players was that they would be playing next to veterans returning from the 2020 season in Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good but they are both on injured reserve right now. 

Along with the offensive line, they also overhauled their defensive line in order to better suit Bradley’s defensive scheme. In free agency, they signed pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson, and Solomon Thomas

They also used five draft picks on defensive players: safety Trevon Moehrig, defensive end Malcolm Koonce, linebacker Divine Deablo, safety Tyree Gillespie, and slot corner Nate Hobbs.

2021 Outlook

The Raiders are currently 3-0 and are dominating early-season headlines yet again, as they always seem to do. Everything is peachy in Raider-landia. They are buying all the Bradley hype, and to his credit, the defense has played very well so far. Hayward and Perryman have helped stabilize the cornerback and linebacker rooms, Ngakoue has given the pass rush a much-needed boost, and they are getting nice contributions from Moehrig and Hobbs. 

If the Raiders are going to continue to be relevant, those things have to continue but as we all know with our familiarity with Bradley, they probably won’t – especially once they start playing better offenses and start incurring injuries. They have road matchups with the Chargers and Broncos in the next three weeks, but the most difficult part of their schedule comes later on in the year when they face a gauntlet featuring the Chiefs twice, Cowboys, and Browns from Weeks 10-15. 

Derek Carr is playing like the 2016 version of himself that was a borderline MVP candidate, and he finally seems to be comfortable enough to push the ball down the field again. The tough part for their offense is that the revamped offensive line is young and banged up. That generally is not a good combination, as we all experienced last season with the Chargers. 

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History Against The Chargers

The Chargers and Raiders have played a whopping 123 times throughout the history of the NFL and is one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL. The Raiders currently hold the series lead 66-55. The two have generally had a streaky rivalry, with one winning a few in a row before giving way to the other. The Chargers obviously won the most recent matchup, but the Raiders had won the previous three matchups with the Chargers winning four in a row before that. The Chargers hold the longest winning streak between the two longtime rivals at 13 games, which started on December 28th, 2003, and lasted until October 10th, 2010. 

The Chargers are the better team in this matchup overall, and it’s impossible to trust Bradley’s defense to continue to show up in big games. To me, the Chargers have distinct advantages at the most important matchups across the board. Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, Joey Bosa, Jared Cook, and Austin Ekeler specifically have very positive matchups this week. Because of that, I’m picking the Chargers to win 28-23. 


The Raiders social media team mistakenly puts a picture up of Ken Wisenhunt after hiring Gus Bradley. Via Gilbert Manzano