LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - UPDATE: Game is currently in lightning delay. Scheduled kickoff moved to 5:50 p.m.
Football fans across the country are excited for Monday's highly anticipated matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers (2-1) and the Las Vegas Raiders (3-0). However, this Monday Night Football showdown means even more to fans in Southern California.
The Raiders, who played in Los Angeles from 1982-1994, still have arguably the largest fan base in the city. Meanwhile, the Chargers, who moved up the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017, look to seize an opportunity to increase their support in the city.
The Chargers share Inglewood's brand new SoFi Stadium, which will host the 2022 Super Bowl, with the Los Angeles Rams, further complicating their ability to establish themselves in a city with multiple teams in each of the four major North American sports leagues.
In previous Chargers home games against the Raiders, fans of the Black and Silver have taken over the Dignity Health Sports Park, where the Chargers played while waiting for SoFi Stadium to open. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr doesn't expect that to change even in the slightest.
"Whether it was in Los Angeles at that soccer stadium or in Qualcomm in San Diego, it was another home game. We always looked at it as another home game and that's no disrespect, it's just a fact," said Carr. "I fully expect Raider Nation to take over the majority of the stadium again."
The Chargers four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Keenan Allen, believes things will be different this time around, especially with a reinvigorated Chargers team led by 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert.
"They do travel pretty good, so I mean, it'll probably be 50/50. That's not good for the Raider game," said Allen. "We've been winning. Obviously, we got [Justin Herbert], so I'm pretty sure they'll be in the building."
The Chargers are coming off a huge 30-24 win on the road against the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Herbert was electric throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns, out-dueling 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
The Raiders are 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and are the only undefeated team in the league besides the Arizona Cardinals, who improved to 4-0 on Sunday with a commanding 37-20 victory against the Rams at SoFi Stadium.
Carr currently leads the league averaging over 400 passing yards per game, over 60 yards more than any other quarterback. He has also distributed the ball evenly throwing each of his six touchdown passes going to a different receiver. Four players have at least 200 yards receiving, the first time in NFL history that has happened through the first three games.
"Derek is operating at an extremely high level," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. "They have really surrounded him with a complete offense. They have weapons in all areas."
Herbert is third in the with 318.7 passing yards per game and has one of the most lethal wide receiver duos in the league, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. They are one of only two duos to have at least 250 receiving yards through their first three games this season. Williams continues to emerge as Herbert's favorite target as the two have connected for a touchdown in four straight games.
"It's hard to just unleash the rush on this guy because they allow him to scramble and he will hurt you bad," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Herbert. "If you don't protect the pocket and you have a lot of coverage down the field against Williams and Keenan and all of their weapons, this guy will put the ball down and he will really hurt you bad. We got hurt last week with some scramble plays, so we got to really be careful with our rush."
In true Monday Night Football fashion, this game is expected to go down to the wire with the last four meetings between the two teams having been decided by seven points or less. The game will start at 5:15 pm on ESPN.
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