Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers: Not As Easy As Charger Fans May Think
The Oakland Raiders go into San Diego the face the red hot Chargers. They do this while being a frozen cold after back to back blowout losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.
A win for the Chargers on Sunday will break the record for consecutive wins in December. This is the Chargers time as it has been every year for the last few years.
From the looks of things going in, the Raiders might as well forfeit the game to get some guys healthy. But not all NFL games turn out to be what they appear to be at the outset of them.
Turn the page to see why this game is one of them.
The Raiders Won The First Game
It's easy to say that the Raider's win in the first game means nothing because that's when the Chargers usually have trouble. The Chargers are now clicking on all cylinders so a Raider win is impossible.
Just remember that this is a rivalry game that has been very lopsided for the las few years. The Raiders finally broke through with a win earlier this year after some close misses last year.
That's confidence for this young team.
You don't know if you can beat a team until you actually do so. This is important for when the Raiders go through adversity or are in a close game with the Chargers.
Confidence is everything for a young team that isn't so hot right now.
Bruce Gradkowski Out
It's never good that a player gets injured but Bruce Gradkowski's injury gives the Raiders a better chance to win. It seems like Raider head coach Tom Cable would rather get fired than not start Gradkowski at quarterback.
Gradkowski had the Raiders behind at halftime in a game the Raiders blocked two punts. One resulted in a safety while the other resulted in a touchdown.
A winless quarterback doesn't give you a better chance to win when the other one has won four games. He especially doesn't against a team that he didn't play well against the first time before getting injured.
Gradkowski out increases the Raider's chances dramatically.
Jason Campbell In
Jason Campbell gives the Raiders a much better chance to win a football game this year. He gives the Raiders four times more of a chance to be exact.
We can add to that the fact that the Campbell played well in relief of the injured Gradkowski against these Chargers. Campbell actually played well in a last minute loss to the Chargers while with the Redskins last year.
The Chargers didn't play their starters for the whole game as they were already guaranteed a playoff spot. But what it shows me that Campbell is dialed on what they do defensively as it carried over to week five this year.
From a skill set standpoint, his arm and allows the Raiders to threaten the Chargers down the field. The Chargers do have the No. 2 ranked pass defense but they don't match up well with the Raider's speed.
If the Charger safeties get nosy toward the run, Campbell will have opportunities to make big plays. What he does with these opportunities will determine the outcome of this game.
So what makes me like his chances?
Campbell is 4-0 after being benched this season.
His brightest days always come after his darkest nights.
Darren McFadden Healthy This Time
Darren McFadden was injured for the Raider's week five game against the Chargers. That didn't end up being a problem for the Raider's running game with Michael Bush going over 100 yards.
What will McFadden do his crack at the Chargers?
This is the Chargers and not the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What the Steelers where able to do the few times the Raiders did run the ball was stop it without always having eight plus in the box. Therefore, they still had their safeties back in coverage against the pass.
Being up by a large margin also helped the Steeler cause.
Having McFadden is good for more than just he running game.
Don't Forget Michael Bush
Just because Darren McFadden is back doesn't mean it's time to leave Michael Bush on the bus. We need both of these men to wear the defense down and control the ball.
Bush will be of important use in short yardage and in the red zone as well. He had a touchdown from in close to go with his 100 yard game in week five.
Bush was pretty darn good in McFadden's absence in week five.
Louis Murphy Healthy
Louis Murphy appeared to be back from his injury with four catches for 73 yards last Sunday. Murphy is an important part of the equation here because the Chargers don't have anyone that can cover him.
Murphy had just two catches in their week five match up but for 61 yards. It included a 58-yard catch for one of those big plays the Murphy is so known for.
Murphy's NFL big play madness started with the Chargers in the opening week of the 2009 season. It was then that Murphy had a 57-yard touchdown catch in crunch time but it didn't hold up to win the game.
Murphy also had a clear catch ruled incomplete in the end zone.
No more about that.
Chaz Schilens Is Back!........... Maybe
Chaz Schilens has practiced back to back days for the first time since training camp! He is the reason why Davis and company didn't go after a receiver this past off season.
It looks like they should have now only because Schilens has not played all year. Schilens' presence is huge because he is a deep threat and can do the dirty work over the middle for first downs.
That's even bigger now because tight end Zach Miller is less than 100 percent at this time. If Miller is better for this coming Sunday, he will see much less bracket coverage on third down because of Schilens.
The Raiders are a different team with Schilens in the fold and he will make Campbell a better quarterback. He actually made Jamarcus Russell look like and NFL quarterback at the end of the 2008 season.
A big, physical, fast receiver with hops and hands is any quarterback's dream.
Just play baby!
The Offensive Line Is Everything
The offensive line will be the reason the Raiders win or lose this game. Cable has been so quick to pull Campbell when he doesn't play well.
Right guard Cooper Carlisle has been killing the Silver and Black along with center Samson Satele. Yet there has been no hint of a plan to pull either one of them and I've only seem them play well twice this season.
Cable should at least consider putting Daniel Loper in for Carlisle.
Campbell needs the offensive line to play well because he's not so good running for his life. He also has more seven step drops called when he plays to give the Raider receivers time to get open deep.
The Raider offensive line has to pick it up in the run game too because third and long really isn't good for any team. The Raiders already struggle in pass protection so they are especially not equipped for such situations.
The Raider won't win with constant third and longs.
Nnamdi Asomugha Has to Play
Raider Nation is hopefull that Nnamdi Asomugha is ready to play Sunday. He needs to rub it, ice it, shoot it, and sleep in a hyperbaric chamber because Asomugha is badly needed for this game.
Philip Rivers is having career year and the Charger's big, fast receivers are killing it way this year. The best corner in the game needs to be out there to keep at least one receiver under control.
Asomugha played in the week five match up and Rivers threw for 431 yards.
I'd hate to see if Rivers throw the ball on the Raiders without Nnamdi.
Move Huff to Corner
I think Michael Huff should be moved to corner permanently but it's a real need for this game. Huff has good size for a corner and is physical enough to bump and run with the huge receivers the Chargers have.
Vincent Jackson isn't playing but Legadu Nanee and Malcolm Floyd are so size is needed for the Raiders. The fact that Chris Johnson is out makes it even more necessary to play Huff at corner Sunday.
The receiving corps of the Chargers may not be stoppable but this gives the Raiders the best chance.
They Have To Deal With Richard Seymour
In opening week of the 2009 season, Richard Seymour got off and airplane from Boston to get six tackles and two sacks. He has been wreaking havoc in the Charger backfield every time they play them since.
He had a half a sack in week five of this season to go with numerous pressures. Seymour also made his presence in the run game as the Raiders held the Chargers to 91 yards rushing and a 3.5 average.
Any play Seymour doesn't make easily can be made by another member of the Raider front seven. This is because Seymour will occupy two to three blocker on any given play against this team.
Otherwise, he'll make the play himself.
Oakland Raider defensive coordinator John Marshall has to dial up the blitz. When he's finished dialing up the blitz, he has to dial it up more.
Rivers is amazing but he is still like any other red blooded quarterback in the world.
If you put pressure on him and constantly hit him, he won't be as effective. Rivers is also more likely to turn the ball over in some way, shape, or form under such circumstances.
The Raiders saved the game and got a turnover out of Rivers by blitzing late in the game in week five. Before that, Rivers was picking the Raider secondary that was mysteriously in zone much of the time.
Give Rivers as little time as possible.
That's the only chance the Raiders have.
Offensive Play Calls
Just because Campbell is playing now doesn't mean it has to be all deep balls. Let him throw some short stuff to get some completions and get his confidence up.
Campbell can run so some designed roll outs to give him extra time to throw will also do him some good. The Raiders should take their shots but not always from the pocket, holding on to the ball.
That should at least keep his quarterback rating be over 50 by halftime.
Raider fans are also hoping Miller can contribute with some third down catches this Sunday. Schilens in the lineup would make Jackson open the playbook up even more.
All deep balls with the rush coming at him leads to bad quarterback ratings. The Raiders should throw the ball to McFadden more too because it gives your best football player another shot to touch the ball.
Fullback Marcel Reece and his wide receiver skill set should be used on the Charger linebackers too. But this in no way means that the Raiders should abandon the run game if if first faces difficulty.
Rivers must be kept off the field as long as possible.
I am not calling this upset Sunday because the Chargers look pretty good at this time. But I'm not calling this an easy out for the Chargers either as the last few games have been pretty close between these rivals.
What's been written on slides one through 13 give the Raiders and excellent shot to pull off the upset. Before you look at this game as an easy out, realize the upsets these two teams have pulled on each other over the years.
The rivalry has been pretty one-sided lately but the games were close last year. Then the Raiders broke through with a victory in week five this year.
There are match ups that favor the Raiders too.
And Jacoby Ford is lurking.
He can very well have a big impact on this game through the air or on a return.
There is nothing automatic about this game.