LAS VEGAS – Just under a year from when the Chargers' 2021 season came to an abrupt ending that prevented them from reaching the playoffs, they return to Allegiant Stadium for the first time since the devastating defeat.
Much of the Chargers team has seen change from the personnel they had last season, so the return to Las Vegas doesn't have quite the lasting memory to some as it does others.
Sunday's game will be the second of two meetings between the Chargers and Raiders with the Week 1 matchup resulting in a Los Angeles 24-19 victory.
This time around, the Chargers will be without three starters on offense, as the team ruled out wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle), center Corey Linsley (concussion) and right tackle Trey Pipkins. They also ruled linebacker Drue Tranquill (illness), defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko (illness) and safety Nasir Adderley (thumb) as questionable.
The Raiders have their fair share of injuries as well, ruling out tight end Jesper Horsted (concussion) and defensive tackle Kendal Vickers (back). Five players have also been deemed questionable, including defensive tackle Andrew Billings (fibula), running back Brandon Bolden (calf), guard Lester Cotton (calf), running back Josh Jacobs (calf) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (wrist).
One of the many points of emphasis for the Chargers entering this matchup is starting fast. They've routinely gotten off to slow starts in the first quarter of games, but have rebounded in the second quarter into being one of the league's top scoring teams.
It's pivotal for a quick start by the Chargers, as the Raiders possess one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL with Josh Jacobs, who leads the NFL with 1,159 yards. Getting off to a lead and forcing Las Vegas to play from behind will help mitigate their ground game.
Game planning for Jacobs is a matchup that doesn’t bode well for the Chargers do to their inability to stop the run this season. They've allowed opposing teams to rush for over 150 yards in six of their last seven games, including three times in which their opposition has gone over the 200-yard benchmark.
On offense for the Chargers, they'll operate with a patchwork offense line, turning to Will Clapp at center and Foster Sarell at right tackle in slew of the injuries. Sunday's game will mark Sarell's second career start with his first coming three weeks ago in San Francisco where he allowed one sack and five pressures.
Not only will the Chargers be without two starters in Linsley and Pipkins, but Justin Herbert has been sacked nine times in the last two games, more than an other quarterback during that stretch.
The Chargers will likely operate with a helping hand on Sarell's side, using chip blocks on a regular occasion to slow down Maxx Crosby, who's totaled 10.5 sacks in 11 games.
For the Chargers to come away on top, I think it's a game they'll need to be carried by the right arm of Herbert. Wide receiver Keenan Allen appears to have put his hamstring injury behind him, catching 10 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown across the last two games. I think he'll have a big part in the scouring output on Sunday.
Like most of the AFC West showdowns, particularly when the Chargers and Raiders play one another, the games tend to finish in close fashion. I see this game being no different, but with the Chargers' struggling run defense tasked with trying to slow down Jacobs, paired with the injuries to the offense line, I have the Raiders winning by a field goal.
Prediction: Raiders 30, Chargers 27
2022 game prediction record: 9-2
- Nick Cothrel, Beat Writer
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Read more from Charger Report:
- Chargers to be Short-Handed in Week 13 Clash Against Raiders
- Chargers at Raiders Week 13 Injury Report: Friday
- Chargers' Struggling Run Defense to be Fully Tested Against Raiders' Prolific Ground Game
- Chargers at Raiders Week 13 Injury Report: Thursday
- Chargers' Pass Protection Looks to Rebound Against Raiders Following Rough Patch
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.