Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over San Diego Chargers

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Oct 18, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts after his pass fell incomplete in the final seconds of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Get To Rivers Early And Often

The Chargers have a problem with their offensive line – namely that they don’t protect Rivers particularly well. On the season, they’ve given up17 sacks. Only Tennessee, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Seattle have given up more on the year. It’s pretty amazing that Rivers has been able to accomplish what he has so far this year given the fact that somebody is in his face almost every down.

A creaky offensive line combined with lethal pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith should equate to a big day for the Raiders’ pass rush. “Should” being the operative word. Though the pass rush has steadily improved over the course of the first five games for Oakland, we’re still waiting for that big, breakthrough game.

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That game could potentially come this Sunday. A team that gives up as many sacks as the Chargers do seems like a dream come true for beastly pass rushers like Mack and Smith.

The larger picture though is that the Raiders’ front seven absolutely must make life tough on Rivers. They have to make him uncomfortable from the start. The defensive line must collapse that pocket, they have to get him on the move, and most importantly they have to hit him. Every single time they have the opportunity, they need to put a body on him. Rivers’ uniform needs to be one of the dirtiest on the field by the end of the day.

The reason for this is not just because seeing Rivers get flattened time and time again would be fun for Raiders fans – though, it certainly would be – the bigger reason is that Rivers is an emotional player. He’s easily angered and frustrated. If he’s too busy running for his life and/or picking himself up after every play – or making terrible and costly mistakes – he is going to be out of rhythm and off his game.

And that, more than anything, is what the Raiders need.

The faster they can knock Rivers off his game, the better off they will be. So the Raiders need to start the game strong and put Rivers on his butt early and often.

Next: Have No Mercy