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Burning questions for Chargers vs Raiders on ‘Thursday Night Football’

Vincent Frank

Two division rivals will do battle on “Thursday Night Football” as the NFL opens up Week 10.

It includes the Los Angeles Chargers making their final trek to Oakland to take on the Raiders before they relocate to Las Vegas.

What has been a huge rivalry takes on a new meaning as both the Chargers and Raiders look to remain in the AFC West race. Los Angeles enters Week 10 at 4-5 and has won two consecutive. Just one half game behind Kansas City in the loss column, Oakland sits at 4-4.

Here’s a look at the biggest burning questions for what promises to be a fun mid-week game.

Can Derek Carr keep up high level of play?

A three-time Pro Bowler, Carr enters Week 10 in the midst of a career season. He’s on pace to throw for nearly 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. This rebound performance from Carr has Oakland at a surprising 4-4 on the season.

We’re intrigued to see if Carr can keep up this performance against a Chargers defense that held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 184 total yards on a blowout win last week. Carr is 4-6 in his career against the Chargers and has thrown just 14 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions in those 10 starts.

Will Melvin Gordon show up once again?

Gordon has had a slow go of it since returning from his lengthy holdout. The two-time Pro Bowl performer is averaging just three yards per rush. His season high in terms of yardage prior to last week was 32. Gordon responded big time in the win against Green Bay, tallying 109 total yards and two touchdowns on 23 touches.

Philip Rivers and Co. will need more of that against a Raiders defense that ranks seventh stopping the run. This type of balance would help Rivers avoid the uncharacteristic mistakes that have plagued him thus far this season.

Can the Raiders’ secondary step up?

As good as Oakland has been stopping the run this season, it has struggled something fierce against the pass. In fact, this unit ranks dead last stopping the air game. It is yielding 298 yards per game and an absurd 114.8 quarterback rating. This must change if the Raiders want to be seen as viable playoff contenders.

Having moved on from former first-round pick Gareon Conley, Oakland is relying on a number of youngsters. It just activated rookie fourth-round pick Isaiah Johnson from injured reserve and has been throwing fellow rookie Trayvon Mullen into the fire. Can these youngsters step up against Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ sixth-ranked passing attack?

Can Chargers continue momentum?

Winners of two consecutive games after a 2-5 start to the season, things are starting to look up for Los Angeles. Last week’s blowout 26-11 win over the Green Bay Packers was a huge boost for this squad. Their defense held Aaron Rodgers and Co. to 184 total yards with a lot of that coming in garbage time.

Los Angeles has also had a ton of success against the Raiders recently, winning its past four meetings while holding Oakland to an average of 12.8 points. In their last game against the Raiders in Northern California, the Chargers will want to keep this momentum going.

Will Josh Jacobs turn in another Rookie of the Year performance?

At this point, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that this first-round pick will be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Alabama product is coming off an electric 120-yard outing against the Detroit Lions. Jacobs is now on pace for nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

Set to take on a Chargers defense that ranks in the bottom half of the NFL stopping the run, Jacobs should be in for a big night. It’s going to be needed given that Los Angeles is holding opposing quarterbacks to the fifth-fewest passing yards in the NFL.