Chargers vs. Raiders will be a high-scoring classic

CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 31: Philip Rivers
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 31: Philip Rivers /

NFL fans drooling over the high-scoring affairs in 2018 should be glued to the Los Angeles Chargers’ Week 5 tilt with the Oakland Raiders. This matchup will be an offensive firestorm ignited by two lights-out passing attacks. 

Points are a plenty through four weeks of the 2018 NFL season. Week 4 alone saw a quartet of games that evolved into offensive explosions. Last Thursday’s match between the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings saw both quarterbacks record 400-plus passing yards in the 38-31 win for the host Rams.

On Sunday, viewers of the Cincinnati Bengals’ win over the Atlanta Falcons were treated to a 37-36 shootout. A similar scoreline emerged from the Houston Texans 37-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and the Oakland Raiders earned their first win of the season with a 45-42 triumph over the Cleveland Browns.

Expect the winner of the latter matchup to partake in another offense-heavy matchup in week 5 when the Raiders clash with the Chargers. Both squads have excelled throwing the football, but have struggled to find a consistent rhythm on defense. The combination of those two ingredients is the recipe for another high-scoring classic on Sunday.

Through the first quarter of the season, the Chargers possess a modest 2-2 record, but producing on offense has not been a challenge for the Bolts. L.A. is averaging 27.8 points-per-game and 403.5 yards-per-game through four weeks, as both totals are ninth-highest in the NFL. The top-10 offensive output starts with the performance of quarterback Philip Rivers.

The 36-year-old gunslinger has tossed 11 passing touchdowns and two interceptions for 1,156 passing yards thus far in 2018. Oddly enough, Rivers has thrown for under 300 yards in three of four starts this season. However, the only occasion he broke that statistical-barrier came in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs when he tossed 424 passing yards.

Kansas City’s passing defense is the second-worst in the league, as the Chiefs are allowing 328.5 passing yards-per-game. Although the Raiders defensive backfield is not as dreadful as Kansas City’s, they are still prone to giving up big plays through the air.

Oakland’s secondary has allowed 19 completions of 20-plus yards so far this season, which is tied for second-most in the NFL. Busted coverages and missed tackles in the open field have become a common occurrence for the Raiders pass defense this year. A lackluster pass rush has not alleviated any pressure from the secondary in 2018, and Rivers will take full advantage of Oakland’s defensive deficiencies on Sunday.

But the Chargers’ veteran signal caller will not be the only quarterback in this matchup with the same luxury. Raiders gunslinger Derek Carr has been a yardage machine through four weeks, and the trend will continue against a porous Chargers secondary.

Coming into this AFC West showdown, Carr has recorded 1,373 passing yards and is averaging 343.2 passing yards-per-game. Both outputs are fourth-highest in the NFL. The Fresno State alum has racked up six touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 2018 and is fresh off a four-score performance against the Browns.

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Chargers fans should brace for Carr to carry that momentum into their tilt on Sunday because the Bolts’ secondary has been a liability this season. L.A.’s defensive backfield has allowed 20 passing plays of 20 or more yards in 2018, which is tied for last in the NFL with the Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And with Carr developing a stronger chemistry with his talent-rich receiving corps, expect that number to rise significantly on Sunday.

Furthermore, the Bolts’ pass defense is allowing 8.7 yards-per-completion to opposing quarterbacks, the fourth-worst mark in the league. Much like the Raiders, the Chargers’ front-seven is not generating a viable pass rush, so Carr will have plenty of time to launch the ball in Week 5.

Both quarterbacks in this game are squaring off against inconsistent and sub-par secondaries, which means this divisional affair will be an aerial clinic. Add in a pair of productive rushing attacks, and an offensive barrage will ensue, making the newest edition of the Chargers-Raiders rivalry one of the most memorable to date.

Do not be stunned if Rivers and Carr record over 400 passing yards each and the winner of this game reaches 42 points.