2. Maxx Crosby vs. Storm Norton
If the LA Chargers are to continue their offensive dominance they've displayed over recent weeks, they'll have to contain the Raiders' biggest defensive threat, pass rusher Maxx Crosby.
If you lazily look at the box score of Maxx Crosby's outputs this season, you may find yourself wondering where all the hype around the 3rd year defensive end is coming from. Despite only registering six sacks across the campaign, all of which came in only three separate games, Crosby has turned himself into one of the league's top threats on the edge. Crosby has amounted a league-best 90 pressures on the season, leading the way at 5.63 pressures per game, and with his 529 pass-rush snaps on the season, he holds a 17% pressure rate. That is absolutely elite-level production from the 2019 3rd round pick.
In the week four matchup between these two teams, Crosby accumulated one QB hit, one tackle, and a pass batted down, however was able to register a pressure on a staggering 27.5% of his pass-rushing snaps according to PFF. If the Chargers' offensive line allows that to happen again, then Maxx Crosby could be a game-wrecker that in turn ends their season.
Despite a surprisingly good performance by Trey Pipkins against the Denver Broncos in week 17, the right tackle position will be occupied by incumbent starter Strom Norton on Sunday night, who has taken over in the absence of Bryan Bulaga. Even though Norton is not the future at the position, he has done a satisfactory job since taking over the full-time job in week two.
Expect the Chargers offensive gameplan to include extra help for Norton, including double team blocks with the TEs, and chips from the running backs. If he struggles to handle the fast-emerging Crosby, then Pipkins could be an option as an in-game replacement, but if not, it could end up being a long night for Justin Herbert. Norton will be put in the spotlight on primetime as he attempts to handle the Raiders' biggest threat to the Chargers playoff hopes.