The Las Vegas Raiders have exceeded all expectations to start the 2021 season as they find themselves tied for first in the AFC West with a perfect 3-0 record.
Although the Raiders have needed two overtimes to come out unscathed, they have shown they can withstand the moment and make plays when they matter most. After that, however, they get arguably their toughest test to date when they face off against their rival Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4.
The Chargers are coming off their best win of the young season, beating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. Los Angeles’s offense spearheaded by Justin Herbert is clicking on all cylinders, and head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged that defending them will be a major hurdle to a 4-0 record.
“They’ve had it going on offense for a while since [Justin] Herbert showed up,” Gruden said. “Philip Rivers had a great run there. They’ve been a good offensive team it seems like every year. They’ve got some weapons outside that can do damage. They have a great, creative runner in [Austin] Ekeler. Quarterback is a great player. He’s really something else to watch. He can throw, he can run and he’s smart. He makes good decisions. They have a creative scheme, so it’ll be a challenge for us no doubt. It’ll be a big-time challenge.”
The Raiders defense has done well in getting to opposing quarterbacks but has still been susceptible to giving up big passing plays. The Chargers have stalwart Keenan Allen, but Mike Williams has gotten off to a hot start as he has been a complete mismatch one-on-one for defensive backs. Aside from the two receivers, Herbert has looked better in his sophomore year, showing patience in the pocket and an ability to extend plays with his legs.
Las Vegas has the tools necessary to pull off another victory, but this game will be intense given the in-division implications. Gruden and his defense better come prepared because the Chargers can explode on offense if given the opportunities.
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