This past weekend of football provided us with several exciting games, including Sunday night’s reunion showdown between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro. Thankfully, the Week 4 schedule still has one more appetizing contest to offer us when the Las Vegas Raiders meet the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West battle between two playoff-caliber teams.
It promises to be a fierce encounter between two division rivals that are aiming to keep their seasons trending in the right direction. We expect the intensity level to be at an all-time high between these two familiar foes. There are several intriguing one-vs-one matchups that will take place. Here are three heavyweight matchups we’re particularly excited to monitor.
JOEY BOSA VS. ALEX LEATHERWOOD
This matchup should jump off the screen for obvious reasons. Bosa is one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, having compiled an impressive 47.5 sacks throughout his first five complete seasons in the league. Bosa is in Year 6 now, and is off to yet another strong start, recording 1.5 sacks in the Chargers’ first three contests. Bosa primarily lines up over the right tackle in Los Angeles’ defensive front, meaning he’ll see plenty of first-round pick Leatherwood on Monday night.
The former Alabama standout has struggled to keep his quarterback clean so far, “earning” himself a grade of just 25.4 in pass protection through three games, via Pro Football Focus. It has been a less-than-ideal start for Leatherwood, who may be facing his stiffest challenge yet in the form of Bosa.
DARREN WALLER VS. DERWIN JAMES AND/OR CHRIS HARRIS
Elite pass-catchers versus elite defenders don’t get much better than this. And make no mistake, Waller is one of the best receivers in the game. Waller is averaging more than six catches and 75 yards per game so far while seeing an astounding 11 targets per contest.
On the surface, you would expect the Chargers to shadow a player of Waller’s talent with their own swiss-army knife in the form of stud safety Derwin James. It only makes sense, but the Chargers didn’t choose to employ James in such a manner when they squared off with Travis Kelce a week ago, so we can only assume these two may only see each other on a part-time basis. As for who will be tasked with covering Waller on the leftover snaps, that duty could fall to starting slot cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who is expected to return from injury on Monday night. Harris is an 11-year pro who is plenty familiar with Waller, having played within the division for the Denver Broncos before signing with the Chargers in 2020.
MIKE WILLIAMS VS. TRAYVON MULLEN JR.
The 6-foot-4 Williams is absolutely thriving in the Chargers’ new-look offense, something our Brentley Weissman covered in excellent detail and depth here. Williams has dominated the first three games of the 2021 season, totaling 22 receptions for 295 yards and four scores.
Williams is on pace for a monstrous season in his new-found "X-receiver" role, and he'll square off with another impressive young player in the form of Raiders cornerback Mullen. Williams and Mullen are plenty familiar with one another. Not only do they play in the same division, but they spent the 2016 collegiate season as teammates at Clemson. Mullen was excellent in Las Vegas' Week 3 overtime win over the Miami Dolphins, allowing just four receptions and 33 yards on eight targets. Our eyes will be peeled on this one.