The rivalries begin to renew in week six of the season as the Oakland Raiders encounter their first test in the San Diego Chargers.
Subplot: Let the division race begin
No games matter more during the regular season for any team than those inside the division. Throughout NFL history, the trends show teams with better records against division opponents tend to make the playoffs more often. The Oakland Raiders have no exploited this policy enough over the past decade, which has contributed to their struggles. The San Diego Chargers will make an excellent first test.
Exploit Rod Streater and James Jones size advantages
San Diego was a playoff team in 2013, so it’s unlikely there is an easy road for the Raiders to take in winning the game. However, there may be some interesting mismatches they can exploit. One is through the passing game. The Chargers had the 29th ranked pass defense last season and so looked to improve it during the off-season. Their two primary additions were Pro Bowl corner Brandon Flowers and rookie Jason Verrett. On paper it looks like improvement, until you realize both corners are only 5’9″ in height. Oakland should look to use their wide receivers Rod Streater (6’3″) and James Jones (6’1″) to as an advantage.
Get Philip Rivers to move
As with any team in a similar situation, the fate of the San Diego Chargers runs through Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers. So it is up to the Oakland Raiders defense to make his life as uncomfortable as possible. Naturally that will depend heavily on their pass rush and whether they can get to him, but one strategy they can employ is to get Rivers on the move. Last season the stats showed that he was deadly in standard drop backs where he was allowed to stand in the pocket, posting a 106.8 quarterback rating. However, when forced to move his stats drop considerably, reducing his effectiveness.