Raiders at Chargers
Week 5 Preview
The Raiders finally managed to get to the win column in Week 4 against the Browns. They now turn their sights on division rival the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders have been in must win territory for the last few weeks and against the bolts will be no different as they look to avoid falling further away from the rest of the division. The Raiders have entered the path to .500 last week but can they inch closer this week?
Tale of the Tape
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Points Allowed per game
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In order for the Raiders to escape L.A. with their second win this weekend they will need to rely on quarterback Derek Carr to out sling Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers field a dangerous secondary led by cornerback Casey Hayward who according to PFF is the number one ranked corner through the first four weeks. Hayward allowed a reception just once every 17.7 snaps in coverage and allowed an NFL passer rating of 58.6 on throws into his coverage from PFF grades. Safety Derwin James will also make his presence felt as he looks to lock up the red hot tight end Jared Cook. He will also add support in the run game in order for premier linebacker Melvin Ingram to focus more on picking apart a struggling Raiders offensive line. This game has shootout written all over it - this is the synopsis of every Raiders game until proven otherwise - which means Carr will do well to limit his mistakes. Especially entering the fourth quarter where most Raiders games spiral out of control.
Diving into some of the key matchups and Amari Cooper vs Casey Hayward automatically sticks out, but not for good reason. If the Raiders hope to move the ball through the air, they will have to look elsewhere for that as Cooper will draw the toughest corner through four weeks of football. Opposite side of him is corner Trevor Williams who is usually the third option but with star corner Jason Verrett out for the year, the second year player has been a standout. Sneakily ranked the 10th best corner by PFF; the Raiders will have their hands full. This is when having a back like Marshawn Lynch will come in handy. The Chargers have been bad against the run this year coming in at 29th ranked run defense according to PFF. While Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch just keeps getting better. Beast mode is nearly unstoppable near the LOS as he leads the league in tackles avoided tallying 22 according to PFF. The Raiders have had zero problems moving the ball on the ground this year and will continue to do so this week, however the key will be efficiently using the run to set up passing opportunities against a stingy pass defense.
On the defensive side of the ball the Raiders look to have their hands full with veteran gunslinger and the NFL’s number one personality on the field, Phillip Rivers. Rivers lit up the Raiders last year totalling 655 yards for 4 touchdowns while keeping a clean sheet in the turnover column. The Raiders have their work cut out for them as the Chargers running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have been the league’s best 1-2 punch. Gordon sits on the top of the league in rushing yard, attempts, touchdowns and yards per carry while Ekeler is a pass-catching monster entering week 5 with 13 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both backs are dual threats which forces Raiders linebackers to constantly guess where the ball is going and in which way they will get it there. The Raiders linebackers have struggled mightily against opposing receiving running backs. Linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Marquel Lee both rank bottom 5 in passer rating when targeted according to PFF. Corner Gareon Conley will also have his hands full as he faces off against wide receiver Keenan Allen. While Conley has been surprisingly good the rest of the Raiders secondary has been putrid and as a whole have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers allowing 30.25 fppg.
This game will come down to a few factors. Which team can establish pressure to the opposing quarterback. If the Raiders defense can contain the two headed monster of Gordon-Ekeler. Another key factor will be if the Raiders pass catchers can find a way to produce against a secondary stacked to the brim with play makers.
Here are the players to start and sit in this game