The Chargers and Raiders will renew their divisional rivalry in Week 13.
The teams meet Sunday in Las Vegas, with kickoff at 1:25 p.m. (PT).
We chatted with Levi Edwards, who covers the Raiders for their team site, to get a preview of the game.
The Raiders have won back-to-back thrillers. Where is the overall confidence of the team heading into Week 13?
LE: The confidence seems to be high, however the mood in the locker room hasn't changed. It's on to the next one. The Raiders know they have a lot more they want to accomplish this season, despite riding the momentum of the two wins. They've dropped a few games this year that they wish they could get back, so their sense of urgency is still high right now.
What's been the key to Josh Jacobs' incredible season thus far?
LE: His toughness and desire to compete are the two things that stand out first and foremost when evaluating Jacobs' success this season. Coming into Training Camp, there was speculation of his workload being lightened with free agent signings and draftees behind him on the depth chart, but that hasn't been the case. Jacobs is on pace not only to have his best season of his career, but potentially the best season of any running back in Raiders history.
The offensive line has been a tremendous help for Jacobs as well. The once revolving starting unit has settled in with Kolton Miller, Alex Bars, Andre James, Jermaine Eluemunor and rookie Dylan Parham. The offensive line has been making it easy for Jacobs, and vice versa.
Check out the best photos of the Chargers Thursday practice at Hoag Performance Center
Defensively, what's the Raiders' biggest focus against the Chargers offense?
LE: I believe they must contain Austin Ekeler, which they did a good job doing the season opener. Ekeler is an explosive running back who is just as good, if not better, as a pass catcher than he is a rusher. Week 1 against the Raiders, Ekeler recorded 66 total scrimmage yards, and was kept out of the end zone. The Chargers lead back can be dangerous if not accounted for, which the Raiders historically are very aware of.
Who's been a sneaky, under-the-radar X-factor for the Raiders this season?
LE: With injuries keeping Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow out for extended periods of time this season, receiver Mack Hollins has done more than enough to step up in their place. The big-body receiver was brought in to stretch the field adjacent of Davante Adams, and has been enjoying a career season in the process. Hollins is currently second on the team in receiving yards, catches and touchdown receptions, and was voted special teams captain as well. The energy he brings to the Raiders on and off the field has been invaluable to the team.
Finally, how has Josh McDaniels changed the culture in his first season in charge?
LE: He hasn't necessarily changed the culture, but is allowing the players to create their own culture. Josh McDaniels brings an immersive amount of knowledge and wisdom of the game of football, after winning six Super Bowls with the Patriots. However, he said from the beginning that it was important for him that the team forge their identity together, not based on anything in his own past. Overall, the locker room seems pretty tight-knit and invested in the big picture of what McDaniels is trying to accomplish. More success down the stretch will help with continuing to develop the culture and identity of the team.
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