1. Primetime Justin Herbert is better than any version of Derek Carr
What a gift Justin Herbert has been to the Los Angeles Chargers even since he was drafted 6th overall in 2020. The 23-year-old has been fantastic ever since his first start in week 2 of last year, and he continues to exceed expectations through his 2nd season in the league. Somehow, even despite his typical elite play through his first 31 starts in the league, Herbert raises his level even higher during primetime games, to the point where he is statistically backed as the best primetime quarterback in the league. The fact that this Chargers-Raiders game was flexed to the Sunday Night Football timeslot in the week 18 schedule should only benefit the LA team and their young star signal-caller.
This averages out to around 283 passing yards, 3.2 total touchdowns, and only .4 turnovers per primetime outing.
On top of his individual base stats, Herbert holds a 3-2 record in these exclusive game slots, with both losses (at Saints in 2020, and vs. Chiefs in 2021) being games the Chargers should've finished off and won. Herbert also holds a 91.5 PFF passing grade in primetime, with an outstanding 0.272 EPA/Play. E-L-I-T-E quarterbacking in much simpler words.
Herbert's opposing quarterback on Sunday Night, Derek Carr, has had a solid year thus far, doing an excellent job dragging the Raiders into this situation. Carr has thrown for 4618 yards, 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 69.2% completion rate coming into week 18.
Despite Carr's excellence during clutch situations keeping Las Vegas afloat, we know what Carr is, he's nothing special, and he has a definite ceiling as a quarterback. Herbert possesses the better arm talent, including throw power and accuracy, has better poise in the pocket, and is more athletic with his legs when it comes to extending plays or being active in the running game. Carr can get jittery when his line begins to unravel and the resulting pass rush gets to him, as illustrated by Joey Bosa's thoughts following the week 4 Monday Night Football Victory.
When it comes to comparing Derek Carr to Primetime Justin Herbert, its clear Herbert is superior and will do enough to get the Chargers over the line and into the postseason with a victory on Sunday.