Dissecting Best Individual Matchups to Watch in Oakland Raiders' Week 5 Action
Though they could be sitting at 3-1 had two winnable games gone in their favor, each team is as good as its record says in the NFL.
For the Raiders to climb out of their early-season hole and establish some much-needed momentum heading into a difficult part of their schedule, they need to come out and show they are a better team than the way they have played in recent weeks.
To do that, they will be relying on some of their key players to win individual matchups against a surprisingly good Chargers team.
RDE Lamarr Houston vs. LT King Dunlap
Like any game, much of it will be won and lost in the trenches.
For the Raiders to slow down the Chargers’ passing attack, they will need their best defensive lineman, Lamarr Houston, to have a big game against King Dunlap.
Houston is becoming one of the better all-around 4-3 defensive ends in the game, but his impact needs to be felt as a pass-rusher more than anything else in this contest.
If he can win, and win quickly, at the line of scrimmage against Dunlap, Houston gives the Raiders their best opportunity at disrupting what has been one of the league’s most impressive passing offenses through the first four weeks of the season.
If he can’t do so, and the weight falls on the shoulders of the rest of the defensive line to put pressure on Rivers, it could make for a long day on defense for the Raiders.
On paper, this is a matchup where Houston should have plenty of success. But the Chargers will likely plan their additional pass protection accordingly.
RT Tony Pashos vs. LOLB Jarret Johnson
Sticking with trench battles, the Raiders need to be able to protect their own quarterback.
The Chargers’ secondary has struggled thus far, and losing Dwight Freeney up front doesn’t help matters either.
If Raiders right tackle Tony Pashos can contain Jarret Johnson, the Chargers’ best pass-rusher after Freeney, Terrelle Pryor could have plenty of time in the pocket to look downfield.
With that kind of time to let plays develop, the Raiders receivers should be able to create separation against the Chargers’ defensive backs and make some big gains.
Either way, the Raiders' success in the passing game starts up front with the pass protection. The matchup to watch will be Pashos and Johnson.
Through four games, Pashos has been a nice surprise for the Raiders. That continued success would go a long way toward a rebound game for the silver and black.
FS Charles Woodson vs. QB Philip Rivers
Again going back to the Chargers’ passing attack, the Raiders will need to find a way to slow it down if they are to have a chance at winning this game.
Although the matchup is hardly just Charles Woodson against Philip Rivers, the impact Woodson can have on the passing game is undeniable.
He's the leader of the secondary and essentially the last line of defense at his free safety spot.
The Raiders could certainly choose to use Woodson in some important coverage matchups, possibly even against star tight end Antonio Gates.
While the likelihood of this is impossible to predict in the week heading into the game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Raiders put arguably their best defensive player so far this season against Rivers’ favorite target, possibly forcing him to look elsewhere.
Rivers has played at a Pro Bowl level so far this season. But if Woodson can contribute in taking away his favorite target in the passing game while also making plays elsewhere on the field, it would go a long way toward the Raiders coming away with a win on Sunday.
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