Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers Week 4 Pick ATS
The Las Vegas Raiders come to SoFi Stadium for an AFC West showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football. The Raiders are 3-0 after polishing off the Dolphins on overtime, 31-28, last week. Meanwhile, the Chargers scored a morale-boosting win over the Chiefs in Arrowhead on Sunday, giving them some inertia heading into this game? Will the Raiders find that the going gets a little tougher here, or can they keep the ball rolling against a solid-looking Chargers squad?
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Context is Everything
When a team struggling to build something like the Raiders starts off at 3-0, nit-picking their success misses the spirit of what's actually happening. At the same time, it would appear the context might rise at least slightly in this road-divisional spot. The Raiders beat a good Ravens team in OT, but still a team trying to patch up a lot of holes already. Subsequent wins over the Steelers and Dolphins came against compromised units, teams with major weaknesses and injuries in key positions. Against the Chargers, they will be facing a mostly intact team personnel-wise. They are also facing a team that could take Raiders' team improvements and make them look not quite as promising. That includes a receiver crew that should test the Raiders' secondary, a defensive front that could trouble the Raiders' O-line, and a general playmaking ability that the Raiders haven't seen yet.
The Raiders have typically been a fast-starting team that fades. Not that they're going to let that happen now. And truth be told, this is as good as they've looked since Gruden returned. It's just a tough spot against a Chargers team that has dialed some good things in on both sides of the ball under first-year head coach Brandon Staley and a good staff. Two draining overtime games in the first three weeks could have the Raiders a little ragged, and they're already a little banged-up.
- Get more details: LV/LAC 10/4/21 Match-up Stats
Is It Better to Take Points in Spots Like This?
In a lot of ways, this has the earmarks of a close divisional game where a salient point can be made for either side. Laying 3.5 points, as the spread stands as of press-time, can seem counterintuitive in these spots. We see Derek Carr honed-in, very accurate, and very clutch in key situations. Even if you think guys like Derwin James and rookie Asante Samuel, Jr. can curb the sometimes-erratic Raiders' receivers and that Joshua Jacobs either being out or compromised puts a hurt on their chances, it's still a spot where Carr can make it work.
I just don't think one can make any concrete judgments on the Raiders' defense until they quell a few offenses like what the Chargers bring to the table. Lamar Jackson without his weapons, a slipping Roethlisberger, and a backup in Jacoby Brissett is one thing. Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, a stocked receiver crew, and a thick supporting cast are quite another. If Miami's offense pushed them to the brink, a similar performance this week could result in a thorough Chargers' win. While Carr looks good, one must also account for the rise in form from Herbert, his line, and things like the boost in production from WR Mike Williams. Whereas the Raiders' receiving crew can disappear for long stretches of the game, the Chargers are able to make an impact fairly consistently with either Williams or Keenan Allen, always a threat to haul in a bunch of catches.
Raiders vs. Chargers Prediction 10/4/21
Being on the wrong side of a key number in a divisional game raises some red flags for those who have been hurt before in similar situations. Still, there are some elements of this matchup that suggest the Chargers can establish more separation than that. I don't think this needs to be a coming-down-to-earth game for the Raiders in order for the Chargers to thrive. It's just that the timing of this game might shake out better for the Chargers from an overall energy standpoint. Maybe the preseason concerns for the Raiders that they've been able to mask both through better play but also by virtue of who they're playing come more to light this week. I'll take the Bolts.