The Los Angeles Chargers are going to be in the middle of one of the most hard-fought division title races we've seen in years. All four teams in the AFC West are capable of making a deep title run. LA's chances of winning it all might be determined by how well they perform against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Derek Carr's group, who knocked LA out of the postseason picture last year and are on track to play the Chargers in Week 1 of the 2022 season, are a formidable group that got stronger thanks to the addition of former Packers star Davante Adams. Vegas and LA have had totally different preseasons.
While the Raiders polished off a perfect 3-0 preseason with a victory against Mac Jones and the Patriots, Brandon Staley's Chargers were swamped and defeated in three straight games. Even Ian Book was carving up that new-look LA defense in the Saints' most recent victory.
Some fans might already be hitting the panic button, as Staley's lack of defensive cohesion in the preseason has set off some alarm bells. The Raiders might look unstoppable and the Chargers unwatchable, but these fortunes will be reversed when the season starts.
The Chargers shouldn't fear the Raiders.
While it might sound like sour grapes to pick apart the obvious holes that Vegas has in their roster, it's worth showing that the Raiders need to pace themselves before they print the Super Bowl banners. Adams is not going to help one of the worst offensive lines in the AFC outside of Kolton Miller.
The Chargers have a clear edge in the quarterback battle, and Austin Ekeler far surpasses. Vegas has some impressive defensive pieces, led by Chandler Jones, but the addition of Khalil mack makes the Chargers a deeper team on that side of the ball.
The Chargers got through the preseason without any of their big names losing a limb, so that should be viewed as a big win in and of itself. The defense looked spotty, but the odds that Staley opened the entire playbook and went for broke are minuscule. The Jets haven't lost a preseason game since 2019. Look where that's got them.
If the Chargers give up 500 yards of offense to the Raiders and Adams makes JC Jackson look like Dexter McCoil, then the team has some problems that need to be addressed. It may sound hard to take all of those boasts from Raiders fans, but their preseason play tells us next to nothing about the regular season.