There are a lot of reasons to be hyped about the upcoming matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. Whichever team wins guarantees their spot in the playoffs this year and it’s fitting the game would be against two hated rivals. The two teams have had many heated battles over the years but this may be the biggest one yet.
There’s an extra reason heading into the game why quarterback Derek Carr could have added motivation to win. After the Chargers beat the Raiders in Week 4, star defensive end Joey Bosa said that Carr “kind of shuts down” when he gets pressured. That was seen by many as a big shot at the quarterback and he wasn’t happy about it.
Week 18 will be the first time Carr has a chance to get revenge but he’s playing nice ahead of the game. He had high praise for Bosa.
“He’s a very aggressive, very good football player,” Carr said of Bosa Wednesday. “He’s one of the best in the world – and it’s the nature of the defensive line position to be aggressive, and that’s how he is. I haven’t talked to him [since Week 4]. I’ll always talk to him during the game, I’ll probably trash talk with him more. But I think the world of Joey. … I wish him the best always, except this week that’s for sure.”
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Carr Needs to Have a Big Game
Whether he’ll admit it or not, Carr is definitely coming into this game with a chip on his shoulder. Even though Bosa wasn’t likely expecting to cause such a stir with those comments, it was massively disrespectful. Every quarterback struggles under consistent pressure so singling out Carr was a low blow.
The Raiders quarterback proved against the Indianapolis Colts last week that he can make big plays under pressure. He was heavily pressured on the pass that he threw to Hunter Renfrow that set up the game-winning field goal. With a tough Chargers team coming to town, Carr will need another big game if he hopes to get his team in the playoffs.
Darren Waller Return Would Help
One thing that would certainly help Carr have a big game would be the return of star tight end Darren Waller. He’s missed five straight games with an injury. He’s finally returned to practice in a limited fashion and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said that they expect him to play.
It remains to be seen just how effective he can be with the injury but he has gotten a good amount of time off. Renfrow and Zay Jones have stepped up in recent weeks without Waller but they aren’t nearly the threat that he is. Having the tight end back completely changes the offense. This could be the Raiders’ last game of the season and it doesn’t look like Waller will miss it. That will certainly help the team’s chances of pulling off the upset.