The rivalry between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers has been dead even for years now. Over the last 24 games the two teams have played, they have split evenly with 12 wins each. Things are about to get much more interesting in the AFC West with Khalil Mack headed to Los Angeles and Davante Adams in Las Vegas.
Notably, Mack has his best years with the Raiders and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 when he was still with the team. He’s coming off of an injury-plagued 2021 where he only played in seven games. The Chicago Bears have had a down couple of seasons with Mack so moving to the Chargers gives him a chance to contend. In his way will be his former team and one of his close friends Derek Carr twice a season.
Mack still remains one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and is now pairing with four-time Pro Bowler Joey Bosa. Carr is welcoming the challenge and has already been chirping with Mack.
“You know me, I’m already talking trash to Khalil. I haven’t stopped since he left,” Carr said on NFL Network. “I’ve been talking trash to him. Even in the Chicago game when we played them, I was talking trash. Maybe I should be nicer and maybe he’ll rush a little slower. I just love it. Khalil along with Joey [Bosa] and their defense, they got a whole bunch of guys.”
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Have Chargers Surpassed Raiders?
The Chargers might have the best roster in the NFL right now. They always have a great roster but that hasn’t gotten them over the hump. Despite having a far superior roster to the Raiders last season, the silver and black beat the Chargers in Week 18 to secure a playoff spot. Clearly, the Raiders had the edge that season but is that still the case.
This offseason, Los Angeles added two star defensive players in Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson. Quarterback Justin Herbert is an emerging superstar and is already a problem. However, the Raiders added Adams and Chandler Jones this offseason. Plus, they hired Josh McDaniels as head coach who is much more experienced than Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. Many are ready to proclaim that Los Angeles could be the best team in the AFC West but the Raiders proved last year that they don’t need a better roster on paper to be the better team.
Is Mack Still a Problem?
Mack has been on a Hall of Fame trajectory throughout his career so far. However, he saw his production decline in the last few seasons. The last season he had more than 10 sacks was back in 2018. He’s now 31 and coming off an injury so it’s fair to question if he’s still elite.
While Raiders fans would hope that he’s no longer the unblockable force, there’s still reason to believe that he’s a great player. In just seven games last season, he had 6.0 sacks. Had he played a full 17 games, he would’ve easily gotten more than 10.0. He’s also still an elite run defender. He may not be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate anymore but he’s still a Pro Bowl-level player.