‘Monday Night Football’ preview: What to watch for in Raiders-Chargers

‘Monday Night Football’ preview: What to watch for in Raiders-Chargers

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | SoFI Stadium Field

It’s not often that you hear about a road team having a home advantage, but apparently that’s the reality, according to Derek Carr. It’s no secret that Raider Nation travels well but, as the NFL’s passing yards leader put it, past meetings against the Chargers were “always looked at as another home game.” Harsh. The red-hot quarterback’s perhaps not-so-hot take effectively sets the stage for what should be another white-hot matchup between these division rivals. Last season, Round 1 went to Las Vegas in a five-point road win. Justin Herbert and the visiting Bolts took Round 2 in an overtime thriller that Carr exited early due to injury. Monday Night Football, which marks the return of fans to this rivalry, is the perfect backdrop for the rubber match.

Here are four things to watch for Monday night when the Chargers host the Raiders:

1) Exciting times at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders have had more thrills in three weeks than some teams have in a season. Aside from the club’s first 3-0 start since 2002, Carr has seemingly been unleashed. Gone are the days of “Captain Checkdown” where he played it safe; Carr’s 2021 form has embraced the deep ball and his team has been better off for it. Carr entered Week 4 among the NFL’s most efficient deep passers, tied for fifth in passer rating (125.0) and ranked eighth in completion percentage (45.0). In Weeks 1 and 3, he deployed a few clutch bombs to Zay Jones‘>Zay Jones to lift his team to wins; it’s worth mentioning both of those were OT victories. Ruggs and Edwards, along with Hunter Renfrow‘>Hunter Renfrow, represent the league’s only foursome of 200-plus yard receivers; no other team has more than two. The Chargers secondary isn’t porous by any means but you better believe the new and improved Carr is going to keep mashing the gas in prime time.

2) Herbert, the young star. You can’t have a potential shoot-out without a fully loaded offense to match wits with. Say hello to Herbert’s weapons. Roll call! Mike Williams, the team’s leading receiver. Keenan Allen, the perennial Pro Bowler. Austin Ekeler, the dual-threat dynamo. Jared Cook, the savvy vet. Not bad, right? It’s been nice to see Herbert and Allen’s chemistry carry over from last year, but it’s been even nicer to see Williams looking Michael Thomas-esque in coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense. In fact, it was Williams — and not Allen, the usual top option — who snagged the late-game scores that netted L.A. its wins. In Allen and Williams, who are the NFL’s second highest receiving duo (553 combined rec. yds), Herbert has a pair of reliable targets he can grow with. Expect him to look to both often once again as he looks to earn a win in his third career prime-time matchup.

3) Under Pressure. What’s better than having one player ranked top-five in QB pressures? Two. Edge rushers Maxx Crosby, who continues to flourish in Year 3, and Yannick Ngakoue have gotten off to a hot start as the leaders of a respectable pass rush. Veterans