Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Duel in the Desert: Monday Night Football Preview

The undefeated Las Vegas Raiders travel to take on the 2-1 Los Angeles Chargers at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN. This early-season battle is crucial for the Chargers because if they win, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West. However, if the Raiders can win on the road, they’ll have a clear advantage at the top of the standings undefeated. The key matchup to watch will be the quarterback matchup between veteran quarterback, Derek Carr, and second-year quarterback, Justin Herbert.

Derek Carr’s Resurgence at Quarterback

Derek Carr has reemerged as one of the elite passers in the NFL after a hot start through the first three games of the season passing for six touchdowns. Carr is currently fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 1,203 yards. He is also fifth in yards per attempt averaging 8.8 yards in that category. Carr’s supporting cast on offense has helped him immensely as there are four receivers with at least 200 yards receiving. Carr will continue to look to get the ball to second-year receiver, Henry Ruggs III, who is the leading receiver for the Raiders with 237 receiving yards. Ruggs is also one of the league leaders in yards per reception averaging 21.6 yards.

Justin Herbert and the Chargers Offense

The Chargers’ offense is currently ranked 9th in total offense in the NFL this season due partly to second-year quarterback, Justin Herbert. Herbert is currently 21st in passing yards in the NFL with 956 yards. Herbert, like Carr, has 6 passing touchdowns and has playmakers on the outside to throw the ball to. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen each have over 250 receiving yards and have five combined touchdowns. Running back, Austin Ekeler, has proved to be a serviceable running back, rushing for 166 yards and one touchdown. He is a threat in the receiving game as well with 113 yards and one touchdown.

Keys to victory

The key for the Raiders to walk away with a victory is if they can establish the ground game early with running back Peyton Barber. It will be difficult for the Raiders to win if they are one-dimensional even with Carr passing the ball all over the field.

The key for the Chargers is to limit turnovers. In their one loss to the Cowboys, Herbert threw two interceptions. Wide receiver, Jalen Guyton and Keenan Allen have also fumbled once each. If the Chargers want a chance to win, they will have to protect the football through the air and on the ground.

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