The Oakland Raiders only have four wins on the season but that includes a big one against the San Diego Chargers in week 5, when the Raiders won the late-night match-up 27-17 at O.Co Coliseum.
But this week, the Raiders head down the Pacific Coast to take on the Chargers on their home field of Qualcomm Stadium.
The Raiders jumped out to a quick start with Terrelle Pryor at quarterback during their week-five match-up, scoring 24-straight points to open up with a 17-0 lead in the first half. The Chargers did make a late run, but the Raiders would hold on to the 24-17 victory.
Both teams are coming off other AFC West match-ups with the Raiders losing at home against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chargers coming off an impressive 27-20 victory against the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos last Thursday.
Running back Ryan Mathews has been improved as of late for the Chargers, running for 127 yards and a touchdown in the win against the Broncos. Mathews now has 100+ rushing yards in the last two weeks with his 127 yards last week.
Oakland’s defense will need to find a way to contain Mathews and limit his productivity. On top of that, the Raiders defense will need to keep an eye on backup running back Danny Woodhead out of the backfield.
Wodohead is used primarily on passing downs for his bass-blocking capabilities, but there’s no doubt that the Chargers are going to look to get him the ball in the open field with screens after they saw Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles haul in eight receptions for 195 yards and four touchdowns.
Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers has had a bounce-back season after his rough season last year. This year, Rivers is averaging 279.5 yards per game, the fourth best in the NFL.
Rivers has found his newest go-to wide receiver in rookie third-round pick Keenan Allen, who came out of Cal. Allen currently leads the Chargers with 931 receiving yards, while adding seven reception touchdowns.
Rivers also still has reliable tight end Antonio Gates who has always had good games against the Raiders. Gates currently leads the Chargers in receptions with 70.
Rivers and the Chargers offense will be a tough match-up for a Raiders defense that is ranked 24th in the league, giving up 254.4 yards per game.
The Raiders have struggled to get off of the field on third down and it won’t be any easier on Sunday. The Chargers offense has been the best in the league, converting 48.3 percent of their third downs, while the Raiders have only stopped 41.1 percent. Oakland’s defense needs to find a way to get the Chargers to third and longs and then find a pass rush to force fourth downs.
Matt McGloin and the Raiders offense will look to attack a Chargers defense that is ranked 29th in the league with giving up 267.4 passing yards per game.
The undrafted rookie McGloin is coming off a performance in which he had four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble) while throwing for a career-hgih 297 yards and two touchdowns. He will need to take care of the football better Sunday to keep up with an offense that scores 24.5 points per game.
McGloin has thrown 15 passing plays of 25 yards or more since being named the starter in week 11, the most of any quarterback in the league. The Raiders offense will look for this trend to continue on Sunday with Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore.
Don’t expect the Raiders to abandon the run though as Rashad Jennings continues to be one of the Raiders’ best offensive weapons. The Chargers rank in the middle of the league while allowing 108.8 rushing yards per game. Getting Jennings going will help keep the defense honest and help open up the passing game for McGloin.
Greg Olson and the Raiders offense also look like they will be getting running back Darren McFadden back from injury. It will be interesting to see how the coaches decided to utilize his talents with Jennings running so well in his place while he remained out with injury.
There’s no question that the Raiders would love to play the role of spoiler with the Chargers still fighting for a postseason berth as the second AFC Wild Card.
MILESTONES TO WATCH FOR:
DE Lamarr Houston
• Needs three sacks to enter the top 20 in Raiders team history.
K Sebastian Janikowski
• Has now converted on 162-consecutive PAT attempts.
• Needs just 20 points to reach 1,500 for his career.
• Needs 23 games played to pass Tim Brown and move into sole possession of first
place on the Raiders’ all-time games played list.
CB Mike Jenkins
• Needs one interception to reach 10 for his career.
RB Rashad Jennings
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 679 rushing yards on the year.
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 936 total yards on the year.
RB Darren McFadden
• Needs 315 rushing yards to eclipse 4,000 yards for his career.
• Needs 470 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 yards for his career.
• Needs one rushing TD to move into sole posession of ninth place on the franchise’s
career list, and two to tie No. 8 Charlie Smith (24, 1968-74). McFadden enters the
game with 22.
WR Denarius Moore
• Needs 26 receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career.
QB Terrelle Pryor
• Is currently first amongst all quarterbacks with 527 rushing yards. Pryor could
eclipse the Raiders’ single-season mark of rushing yards by a quarterback with just
3 more yards. Rich Gannon set the mark in 2000 with 529.
WR Rod Streater
• Needs 70 receiving yards to reach 1,500 for his career and 154 for 1,000 this year.
S Charles Woodson
• Needs six interceptions to tie Ed Reed for first on the interceptions list among all
active players with 62.
• Needs one INT-TD to pass Rod Woodson for first on the all-time list with 12.
• Needs one defensive touchdown to pass Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the
most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.