Identifying must-win contests for the Raiders during the upcoming season.
Week 1 at Chargers
I get it. It’s hard to call an opening-season contest a “must-win”, when the entirety of the season remains regardless of the outcome. Still, this is as close to a must-win game as a week-1 showdown can get.
The Raiders made a lot of noise this off-season, between signing All-Pro Chandler Jones and trading for Davante Adams. The problem is, so did the rest of the AFC West.
Denver traded for Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson, Kansas City is a 4x reigning AFC Championship Game attendee who seemingly knocked the ’22 NFL draft out of the park, and the Chargers paired Joey Bosa with Khalil Mack in addition to signing cornerback J.C. Jackson. The AFC West should be a bloodbath, and this is the tone setter for both Las Vegas and their rivals in Los Angeles.
In the Justin Herbert era, the Chargers stand at 2-2 when going to battle with the Silver and Black. If Derek Carr and company can outscore their rivals, they’ll fly back home to face Arizona with all the momentum on field, and the best fans in sports rocking Allegiant. On the other side of the coin, the Chargers head to Kansas City on a short week after this week-1 bout.
For both Raider Nation and the rest of the NFL world, this will be the first time we see Davante Adams and Derek Carr team up at the next level. If you’re the Chargers, this means there’s no real way to be certain of what’s coming, much more with Josh McDaniels being a first-year head coach in Las Vegas.
One team had to be dealt the hand of facing the Silver and Black in week-1 with little to go off of, and fortunately for the Raiders, that team is a division rival. If Las Vegas can capitalize on this advantage, it will help greatly in starting the season off with a winning record.