The LA Chargers are looking to leapfrog the Las Vegas Raiders in the standings.
The LA Chargers finished dead last in the AFC West last season and did not win a single division game. The team is looking to change its fortunes in 2020 and has been proactive in the offseason as a result, but what has the rest of the AFC West teams been up to?
To answer that question, we have been diving into the offseason of the other teams in the AFC West, today concluding with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Personally, I believe that the Raiders are the favorites to finish in last place in the AFC West this season in their first season in Las Vegas. While Raider fans are hopeful, I do not think they had a good-enough offseason to jump up in the standings while the other teams in the AFC West did.
LA Chargers rival offseason analysis — Las Vegas Raiders:
- Cory Littleton
Cory Littleton is by far the best addition that the Raiders made in the offseason and it cannot be overlooked. Littleton has been a really solid linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams over the last couple of seasons and instantly helps the Raiders’ defensive efforts.
Littleton has had a combined 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons, has 7.5 combined sacks in the two seasons and was named to the Second Team of Pro Football Focus’ All-Clutch Team.
- Nick Kwiatkoski
Nick Kwiatkoski is not as big of a signing as Littleton but together, he and Littleton represent a complete overhaul at the linebacker position that should make the Raiders a better defensive team. Out of everything the Raiders did in the offseason, bolstering the linebacker group with these two was by far the best move.
- Carl Nassib
The Raiders have struggled to get pressure off the edge on the quarterback since trading Khalil Mack and attempted to bolster those efforts by signing former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end, Carl Nassib.
The Raiders paid Nassib $25 million and while he will make a difference, he is not a massive game-changer. He has a combined 12.5 sacks over the last two seasons as well as a combined 25 quarterback hits.
- Jason Witten
Jason Witten is now on the Las Vegas Raiders, which is just a really weird thing to say. He probably won’t be all that impactful, but as a depth option behind Darren Waller and company, but he does represent a solid tight end group.
- Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota is to the Las Vegas Raiders as Tyrod Taylor is to the LA Chargers. Mariota is the backup this season but I would not be surprised to see him get the starting job next year as a bridge option, like Taylor in LA, or even take over this year if Carr struggles.
The craziest part is that Taylor and Mariota have almost identical contracts and their numbers are eerily similar.
- Daryl Worley
The Raiders actually did not really have that many key departures. They did lose a starting cornerback in free agency in Daryl Worley, but it is not like he won’t be easily replaceable as he was simply a serviceable corner.
- Tahir Whitehead
Whitehead is a better player than Worley and seemingly would be a bigger loss but the Raiders essentially replaced Whitehead with Littleton and Kwiatkoski, so while they lost a solid player, they got better at the position.
- Clelin Ferrell
The Raiders made a really surprising selection when they picked Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Ferrell was a projected first-rounder, but fourth seemed a bit too high for him and the pass-rusher did not play all that well in 2019.
He only recorded 4.5 sacks while playing in 62 percent of the defensive snaps. He still has the raw talent to succeed, though, and with a year under his belt he should be better for the Raiders in 2020.
Rookies to watch:
- Henry Ruggs
The Raiders went with speed first in the 2020 NFL Draft and selected Henry Ruggs over Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. Ruggs might not be as polished as the other two, but he is still a really exciting receiving prospect that should give the Raiders their WR1 for the future, at least that is the plan for Vegas.
- Lynn Bowden
I don’t like the cornerback that the Raiders selected in the first round but I really like Lynn Bowden and think that he can be a fun and versatile Swiss Army Knife for the Raiders. Bowden started at Kentucky as a receiver but had to move to quarterback and played great there as well.
He won’t be a quarterback on the Raiders but he can line up at receiver, running back and even wildcat as the quarterback as a threat to run or to throw. He can be the Raiders’ version of Taysom Hill and that is an exciting prospect for Raider fans and a not-so-fun prospect for Charger fans.
How the LA Chargers stack up against the Las Vegas Raiders:
From top to bottom, the LA Chargers are the better team. I do think the Raiders have a quarterback advantage and that Derek Carr gets a bit too much criticism, but outside of that, I like what the Chargers have.
The Raiders do have a solid running game and great tight end group, but the Chargers can easily keep up in both positions. Vegas’ receiving corps has question marks and is unproven while the Chargers have one of the best receiving duos in the league.
The Raiders have around a league-average offensive line and that is where the Chargers hope to be in 2020. Defensively, the Chargers are better in every single area except linebacker and that will be the identity of the team in 2020.
The Raiders got a better break with the schedule as they play their toughest out-of-division games at home instead of on the road, but I still think that the LA Chargers wind up being the better team and even sweep the Raiders in 2020.