Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders Predictions: 3 Critical Stats and Matchups To Watch on Thursday Night Football

The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders meet on Thursday Night Football just five days after the Chargers lost their starting QB for the season.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders meet at the hockey puck new-ish Allegiant Stadium for a Thursday Night Football matchup.

The Chargers entered the season like any other — with high expectations considering the talent they had on the roster. But like all Chargers seasons, it’s turned into a disaster, but on an entirely different level than we’ve grown accustomed to with the West Coast team.

Conversely, the Raiders have overachieved in the W-L columns, despite firing their head coach in-season. Although they remain well below average offensively, Las Vegas’ defense has turned up the dial on opposing offenses as the season has worn on.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders Predictions

  • Beasley: Raiders
  • Bearman: Raiders
  • Miller: Raiders
  • Morrison: Raiders
  • Robinson: Raiders

Just a few days ago, two prediction pieces ended up laughably wrong. The Dolphins embarrassingly collapsed late against the Titans, and the Giants beat the Packers.

Nobody on the PFN selection committee was brave enough to choose either team to upset their opponent. But with the Raiders and Chargers moving in different directions regarding the products they’ve put on the field recently, Las Vegas should be favored in this one.

Maxx Crosby, the Unicorn

Any opportunity to sing the praises of sir Maxxwell Crosby the 98th should be taken with expediency.

Seriously, he’s one of a kind. A few seasons ago, despite playing 80% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps, Crosby put on arguably the most efficient pass-rushing season in the league with over 100 pressures.

MORE: Maxx Crosby’s Tattoos Explained

T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith somewhat legendarily play the bulk of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps when healthy. Playing 86% (Watt’s highest rate) of snaps on the defensive line is a grind.

Crosby played 96% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps in 2022, and through 13 games he has played 97% of their defensive snaps. No matter what, you can almost guarantee he’ll be on the left side of the Raiders’ DL at the snap of the ball — which keeps right tackles awake at night.

Dealing With Pressure

According to Inside Edge, the Raiders have run successful plays on just 9.1% of their pass attempts with Aidan O’Connell under pressure since Week 11. That’s the fourth-worst mark in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Chargers are pressuring opposing QBs on 30% of dropbacks over that same time, which is the fourth-best mark in the NFL.

O’Connell is clearly not the long-term answer for Las Vegas, but understanding whether or not he can be the long-term backup for whoever starts for them in 2024 will come down to his ability to navigate pressure.

The Raiders’ OL has pass protected very well this season. Unfortunately, however, injuries to Kolton Miller and Andre James muddies the pass-protection waters.

Without Justin Herbert, the Chargers must be able to goat O’Connell into a few mistakes under pressure. They need a turnover or two to give Easton Stick a short field.

Floundering Chargers O

Kellen Moore was supposed to be the savior. And early in the season, Los Angeles produced some really nice efficiency metrics. Through five weeks they were fifth in offensive EPA and sixth in success rate.

But losing Mike Williams, Corey Linsley, and Joshua Palmer killed the offense. Herbert’s initial non-throwing-hand injury clearly hampered his ability to consistently throw the ball. An offense that couldn’t run the ball through construction paper needed a pass-happy attack, but they weren’t able to produce.

Quentin Johnston has been a disaster early on as a rookie thrust into a starting role, and aside from Keenan Allen, there’s nothing to write home about at wide receiver.

Since Week 8, these offenses have all produced higher EPA than the Chargers.

  • Browns
  • Bears
  • Steelers
  • Commanders
  • Falcons

Los Angeles ranks 26th in the NFL since then. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ defense has done the inverse.

Surging Raiders Defense

Since Week 8, the Raiders have played some stinkers. Games against the Giants, Jets, and Vikings offenses don’t scream defensive juggernaut. However, in that six-game stretch, they’ve also faced the Lions, Dolphins, and Chiefs.

Also in that six-game stretch, they’re fifth in defensive EPA. In that time, only the Broncos, Vikings, Dolphins, and Jets defenses have produced better results.

The caveat to all of this is that it’s a sample-size issue, but the NFL game at large is one big sample-size issue. A 17-game schedule isn’t enough for us to truly understand this game, so we must do the best we can with the data we have and with what our eyes are seeing.

MORE: Chargers at Raiders Inactives List

After years of struggling in Patrick Graham’s defense because of LOFT issues (it’s a golf term), they’ve found some continuity, and that continuity can bring defenders into a world where they know exactly what their teammate is about to do before they do it — like Goku with opponents when Ultra Instinct kicks in.

Their bodies move for them, making up for inadequate talent. We can’t begin to understand if it’s sustainable, but it’s fun right now.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more! 

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