Both the Raiders and the Chargers had their fair share of problems on Sunday, which they will look to fix before they face each other. Unfortunately, there is not a full week between last game and this one, so the teams have less time to solve their miscues.
The Raiders lost to the Denver Broncos last week. There is no denying that a game is hard to win when your defense gives up close to 300 yards rushing.
Rolando McClain has been deeply missed by the Raiders these last couple of weeks. The middle linebacker has been out injured, and it seems evident that his leadership has a great effect on the defensive unit.
The defensive unit did a good job at stopping the run before McClain’s injury, but Darryl Blackstock, who has been filling in at middle linebacker, has not been up to the task so far.
McClain was active against the Broncos, but did not play. The Raiders surely hope that their defensive field general will be good to go against the Chargers. Otherwise, Blackstock will need to step up his game in order to win the game.
Philip Rivers hasn’t exactly been stellar this season. He still throws for a bunch of yards each game, but his touchdown-turnover ratio hasn’t been anywhere near the standards we’ve come to expect from a player of his caliber.
The Chargers will look to run the ball more to ease the pressure on their quarterback. It also makes sense to rush the ball against a team that recently gave up close to 300 rushing yards in one game.
What's the biggest problem?
Fortunately, the Raiders will not have to account for Philip Rivers’ running ability. The defense was destroyed when it was constantly forced to cover both Denver’s quarterback’s ability to rush the ball as well as the Broncos’ running backs.
Bottom line is that the Raiders will have to stop the run against the Chargers to be successful.
What also troubled the Oakland Raiders greatly were the penalties. The team gave up 130 yards on penalties against the Broncos. Against the Chargers, which is a stronger team than the Broncos, there will be no room for that kind of lack of discipline.
It’s generally not a good thing to give up more penalty yards than you gain rushing yards throughout a game. Darren McFadden is not expected to play against the Chargers, so Michael Bush will get the nod again on Thursday.
Bush rushed for a respectable 96 yards versus the Broncos. He also had a receiving touchdown. He will need to continue that to get that kind of production if the Raiders are going to win the game.
Lastly, Carson Palmer did several good things on Sunday. He did enough to convince me that the Raiders have found their quarterback. However, he has been rusty and his turnover numbers tell that.
If Palmer can cut down on the turnovers against the Chargers, Oakland will be in good position to fight for the win. That is, of course, only if the team can find a way to stop committing so many penalties.
The AFC West is more wide open than ever before, and the Raiders have the opportunity to put themselves in great position to win the division with a win on Thursday.
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