The Oakland Raiders are limping towards to the end of their season, as they play the second of three straight division games to close out the year. The defense has surrendered more than 30 points in the last three games, including giving up 56 last week to the Kansas City Chiefs. The do not get a reprieve this week, as they face the surging San Diego Chargers. The Raiders got the best of the Chargers the last time these two met in Oakland. Can the Raiders sweep the season series and end the Chargers playoff hopes in one fell swoop?
This game is looking more and more like an uphill battle for the Raiders. They are in a downward spiral right now and they are facing a very dangerous Chargers squad. The Chargers are a good team that is gaining some momentum and they have a lot worth playing for. The Raiders should be pumped up for a rivalry, but all they have to play for is pride at this point.
A week after giving up a franchise-worst 56 points to a Chiefs’ offense that is average at best, the Raiders now must deal with the sixth-ranked Chargers’ offense. Philip Rivers is having an amazing bounce-back season after a woeful 2012 season. Rivers is fifth in the league in yards and quarterback rating and fourth in touchdowns. He has been the key to the Chargers resurgence from a third-place finish last season.
It could not be a worse time for the Raiders to be catching the Chargers. When these two teams met in Week 5 in Oakland, the Raiders defense was playing their best football and it showed, as they held the Chargers to 17 points and forcing five turnovers. It helped that the Chargers were a one-dimensional team on the day with the Raiders’ rushing defense holding them to just 36 yards.
The Chargers’ run game is on the rise and that is due to Ryan Matthews stepping up over the last two weeks. He has 230 yards combined the last two games. He has sparked the run game, as the team has ran for 321 yards during the span. It is going to be more difficult for the Raiders to take away the Chargers’ running game, as the run defense has regressed and has allowed nearly 120 rushing yards per game during their four game losing streak.
A new playmaker has emerged this season for the Chargers, as well. Rookie wideout Keenan Allen has produced an excellent rookie campaign with 63 receptions for 931 yards and seven touchdowns. The former Cal Golden Bears’ standout had his breakout game against the Raiders in their first meeting with his first 100-yard game and first touchdown and he has just exploded from that point on. His size, speed, and ball skills is going to cause problems for a much-maligned Raiders’ secondary.
The potential X-factor in the ball game is the fact that the Chargers are still playing to be included in the playoffs. If the Chargers can win, they have a potential outside shot at the sixth and final seed in the AFC portion of the bracket. They do need some help from the Ravens and Dolphins, as a single win by either team in the next two weeks could lock out the Chargers. They will not be worrying about that, because they have to take care of their own business first to even have a shot.
So, the Raiders will be getting an extremely focused Chargers’ team that is firing on all cylinders. It is going to be tough sledding, especially with the negative momentum this team is experiencing. Many people counted the Raiders out in week five and they managed to pull off the impressive win at home, but the Raiders have struggled on the road all season. Every single advantage seems to be in the favor of the Chargers, but the Raiders would love to be the ones to ruin their dreams of their rival from Southern California and that will be their mission heading into Sunday.
Tags: Oakland Raiders