AFC West: 5 Reasons the Oakland Raiders Are Better Than the San Diego Chargers

Kasey ScottAnalyst IOctober 11, 2011

AFC West: 5 Reasons the Oakland Raiders Are Better Than the San Diego Chargers

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    Through the first five weeks of the 2011 NFL season, there is no denying that the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are the cream of the AFC West. 

    While Oakland's record is currently 3-2, they certainly have been more impressive than the Chargers in multiple facets of the game thus far. 

    Oakland will continue to get better as the season continues, and they will prove that they are better than the overrated San Diego Chargers. 

Special Teams

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    When the San Diego Chargers lost kicker Nate Kaeding and allowed a return touchdown in Week 1, it appeared that the Chargers were in for another horrible year of special teams play. 

    While the Chargers have improved, they still are second-best to the Oakland Raiders when it comes to special teams. 

    Chargers kicker Nick Novak is 11-11 on field goals in 2011, but has only kicked three further than 40 yards. On the other hand, Sebastian Janikowski has made seven successful attempts of longer than 40 yards. Janikowski leads the NFL with five field goals from further than 50 yards.  

    San Diego punter Mike Scifres has averaged 46.3 yards per punt, while the Raiders' Shane Lechler has averaged a league-high 53.9 yards per punt. 

    Both teams are pretty average when it comes to returning punts and kicks, as neither has a return touchdown. Additionally, both teams have allowed a return touchdown, making this a wash also. 

Hue Jackson

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    Back in January of this year I came across an article by fellow b/r writer Michael Stridsberg that listed the 26 most overrated coaches in NFL history. 

    Not a surprise, but Norv Turner showed up on the list at 16th. I didn't completely agree with the whole list, but Turner certainly belongs. 

    Turner waltzed into a great situation in San Diego but has never been able to get the Chargers to the Super Bowl. Heck, he didn't even get the Chargers into the playoffs last season.

    This is Turner's fifth season as the Charger's head coach and the expectations will prove too much for him. 

    On the other hand, Hue Jackson inherited a football team that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2002. After being the Raiders' offensive coordinator in 2010, Jackson has taken over as head coach and has done a very good job. 

    Oakland's running game is second-best in the league, and the passing game appears to be coming around. 

    Hue Jackson is the better coach because of the situation into which he was thrown. Turner inherited Pro-Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers, while Jackson got Jason Campbell. 

Darren McFadden

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    Ryan Matthews has grown into a solid NFL running back for the San Diego Chargers, but Darren McFadden has grown into an MVP running back for the Oakland Raiders. 

    Even after only rushing for 51 yards in Week 5, McFadden leads the NFL in rushing by more than 20 yards. His 519 rushing yards are 116 more than Ryan Matthew's 413 yards. 

    McFadden and Matthews both have three rushing touchdowns, but Matthews' longest rush of the season was only 36 yards. McFadden's longest rush of the season was 70 yards, and came against the New York Jets

    Ryan Matthews has had a bigger impact in the passing game, mostly because of the injury to Antonio Gates.

    Matthews has 20 receptions for 261 yards, while McFadden has 17 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. 

    Both running games are extremely talented and deep. Michael Bush is a solid backup to Darren McFadden, and Mike Tolbert is a good backup to Ryan Matthews. 

    As stated earlier, Darren McFadden is playing MVP-type football. Not only that, but McFadden is key to the Raiders' success. 

Strength of Schedule

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    While the Chargers are currently 4-1, their schedule has been a cake walk in comparison to the Raiders'. The only team on the Chargers' schedule thus far that will make the playoffs are the New England Patriots

    When looking at the Raiders' schedule, the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, New York Jets and the Houston Texans will all compete for playoff spots.

    The combined record of the teams that San Diego has beaten is 4-15. New England is 4-1 in retrospect.

    Oakland has only played two teams with a losing record, and the New York Jets will be turning that around very quickly against the Miami Dolphins this weekend. 

    San Diego has yet to be challenged on the season with the exception of New England, while Oakland has had a challenge every week since Week 1 against Denver on the road. 

    The Chargers' schedule gets very challenging after their bye week, and the Raiders' schedule gets much easier. 

    Look for the Chargers to falter while Oakland flexes their muscles and gains ground on San Diego.

Quarterback Play

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    No, Jason Campbell is not a better quarterback than Philip Rivers. The one thing that Campbell does have on Rivers, though, is three less interceptions. 

    Rivers is off to a below-average start, throwing for 1,536 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Rivers has also been sacked 13 times thus far, which can be attributed to his offensive line. 

    Jason Campbell has thrown for 1,118 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. He has only been sacked five times. 

    Campbell might never outplay Philip Rivers, but he has certainly been smarter with the football thus far. When the schedule gets tough for the Chargers, Rivers' turnovers will kill the team. 

    Rivers only threw 13 interceptions in 2010, but his completion percentage is the highest it's ever been at 67.2. 

    Campbell has inferior wide receivers when compared to the Chargers, but he has done a very solid job for the Raiders. He is more of a game manager than Philip Rivers. 

    When the schedules flip for the Raiders and Chargers, we will see Campbell continue to manage football games. Rivers is on pace for a career-high in interceptions, and the Chargers' schedule plus injuries to receivers certainly doesn't help him at all.