This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
The Chargers really make you earn the cover. It's almost worth auto-fading them just to avoid the misery you have to suffer even when they do come through.
- When Derek Carr pulled up lame on a first quarter scramble, I forgot initially who the Raiders backup quarterback was. Marcus Mariota (88 rush yards, one rushing TD, 226 pass yards, one pass TD) played great until the disastrous pick with two minutes left in the game. The time off seemed to benefit him, as he looked more like the mobile prospect he was early in his career than the broken man playing out the string the last few years.
- Darren Waller (12-9-150-1) doesn't seem to care which QB is playing. He's the only game in town in this passing attack. Josh Jacobs (26-76-1, 3-3-38-0) plodded his way to fantasy relevance too, but there wasn't much room to run.
- Justin Herbert looked especially sharp and had a monster fantasy day – 312 pass yards, two TDs, 14 rush yards, one TD, 9.8 YPA, and that's not counting the pass interference penalties drawn by his receivers. Apparently the Raiders defensive coordinator change wasn't the answer.
- You pretty much had to start Keenan Allen (3-1-17) once he was active, but he's going to be a big reason why some semi-final teams got bounced. Jalen Guyton (6-4-91), who had an early drop, but led the team in receiving and Hunter Henry (7-5-65-1) were Herbert's most frequent targets.
- For God knows what reason and despite Herbert's success, the Chargers attempted only one pass in the fourth quarter. They also ran the ball up the middle on 3rd-and-1 with Kalen Ballage from the Raiders 38 in the third quarter, a play that was stuffed for a four-yard loss, then punted on 4th-and-5. Hunter Renfrow returned the punt to the Raiders 24, netting 18 yards for the Chargers on the voluntary change of possession. The next play Mariota scrambled for 26 yards to mid-field, and the Raiders scored a game-tying touchdown 10 plays later.
- After blowing two potential game-winning field goals, Michael Badgley has now missed nine this year with two games left to play. Not everyone can have Justin Tucker, but below a certain floor, the kicker will often destroy everything for which a team has worked. Of course, the same is even more true of the head coach.
- The Chargers overtime fumble into the end zone was funny – from what I could tell watching the edited broadcast, the touchdown would have counted had it not occurred with less than two minutes remaining. But in sudden death overtime, what does it matter how much time is left? I wasn't sweating it too much because the Chargers plus 3.5 was probably going to hold up at that point even if they had settled for a game-tying field goal and given the Raiders back the ball. But it's the Chargers, so I'm glad it didn't come to that.