clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 storylines to watch for Chargers-Raiders

Khalil Mack needs just one half of a sack to reach 100 sacks in his career.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers and their fans are in a very, very inconvenient place with four games to go in the 2023 regular season. There’s no hope for the playoffs barring the most-unlikely of miracles and Justin Herbert won’t set foot on the field until next year after undergoing hand surgery this week.

What is there to be excited about now? Sure, we could all find little things here and there to keep us interested in the on-field product, but when Herbert isn’t out there to keep everyone’s eyes on the game, what are we really hoping to get out of these final four games? If anything, I’d say Keenan Allen having a strong end to the season and him being able to knock off another personal single-season record would be great. Quentin Johnston continuing to build on each performance would also be a welcomed sight.

Overall, these next few weeks are going anywhere. They must be played. The unfortunate part is we’ll all be split on the feelings of wanting to watch the team win and wanting the team to have the highest draft pick possible come April.

1.) Beating the Raiders could be Kellen Moore’s first head coaching interview

The Chargers are set to face the Raiders on Thursday Night Football with Easton Stick as their starting quarterback. This will be Stick’s first regular season start after he subbed in for Herbert this past Sunday. In a little over two quarters of action, Stick threw for 179 yards, including a 57-yard bomb to Quentin Johnston who may have just had the closest thing he’s going to have to a breakout game.

With all the heat in the world now resting under Brandon Staley’s coaching seat, it’s not surprising that some have tossed out the idea that, were Staley to be fired before the end of the season, that Moore could easily be the interim coach for however many games remain in the season. A good start to this pseudo-interview process could be showing the front office that he can dig into his bag and come up with a game plan that helps maximize the strengths of Stick while also simplifying the game plan enough to learn prior to Thursday night.

Some ideas could be moving the pocket and getting him on the move or playing into his athleticism and using him as a dual-threat player. Heck, maybe we see some wildcat looks, as well.

Either way, this is the biggest thing I’ll be watching when the offense takes the field.

2.) Defense needs to continue on their positive momentum to end the season

Apart from the game-sealing drive by the Broncos, the Chargers defense stood tall for most of the matchup on Sunday to keep themselves alive despite the offensive struggles. They were only down 10- at halftime and that only amounted to a pick by Herbert inside the team’s five-yard line, along with two other failed fourth-down attempts. The game could have easily been 6-3 Chargers, but Brandon Staley and the coaching staff chose to hang it all out there seemingly showing that they were aware their days are numbered in LA.

There isn’t much to fight for this season. Pride, mainly. The Raiders have the league’s worst rushing attack through 14 weeks as they’re averaging just a hair over 80 yards on the ground. If there’s one thing I’d want to fight for as a member of that defense, it’s to keep an opponent down where they’ve been down for the entire year.

If I was Sebastian Joseph-Day, Kenneth Murray, and any other defender maybe feeling like they need to continue playing well for the chance to survive a coaching change, this would be how I’d approach this week’s game.

3.) How many sacks can Khalil Mack in his second game against Aiden O’Connell and the Raiders?

No, I don’t think Mack has a chance of recreating his six-sack performance that he put together in Week Three against this same team, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him get home multiple times on Thursday night.

After recording his 15th sack of the season during the team’s win over the Patriots, Mack couldn’t manage to take down Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson on Sunday. Entering Week 15, Mack is just one half of a sack away from hitting 100 in his career and anymore sacks, half or full, would set a new single-season high for him at age 32.

Call it a hutch, but I have the feeling he’s going to break through those thresholds on Thursday night.