At 1-and-7, the Raiders are not very good. At 6-and-2, the Chargers look like they might be very good but the only two teams they’ve played with winning records, the Chiefs and Rams, beat them by double digits.
So the Bolts should have an easy time against a team that, despite what Jon Gruden says, is actively trying to have the worst record in the NFL. But we’ve seen the Chargers lose infinitely winnable games plenty of times before so with this team nothing is a guarantee.
With that in mind here are three key matchups to keep an eye on in Oakland:
Raiders DC Paul Geunther vs. Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt
The Oakland Raiders defense is bad. Like really bad. Only the Buccaneers are allowing more points per game than the Raiders are. Maybe that’s what happens when you trade Khalil Mack and release Bruce Irvin and realize the guys you’ve been drafting aren’t very good. Oakland is giving up 6.8 yards a play which, if it stands, would be the worst mark in NFL history.
Now here come the Chargers, averaging 7.0 yards a play. That’s not a great matchup for the Raiders. If Geunther isn’t able to get better coverage on the outside than he’s been getting from his corners and dial up some pressure on Philip Rivers then Whisenhunt will be able to call pretty much anything he wants and move the ball.
Raiders QB Derek Carr vs. Chargers LB Melvin Ingram
Derek Carr’s season has just been strange. Only Drew Brees has a higher completion percentage than Carr but the Saints are rolling up 35 points a game while the Raiders are only scoring 17. Gruden says the main problem is injuries to the offensive line, where the Raiders are relying on three rookies.
Ingram has 4.5 sacks and is on a pace to just about hit his season average over the last few years. But he’s dropped the QB in each of the last two games and had arguably his best game of the season against the Raiders in Carson with a sack, an interception, and seven tackles. Carr will have to figure out how to get the ball away from Ingram for the Oakland offense to have any kind of a chance to score.
Everyone vs. Oxygen
Smoke from fires in Northern California has blown over the Oakland Coliseum and the air quality is not great. The NFL considered moving this game to Dallas but decided against it. Walking the field pregame my eyes and lungs starting stinging a bit. The air and weather conditions will likely have an impact on the fitness level of the players on the field and that could come into play in the 4th quarter so getting off to a fast start will be of great importance to both teams.
I know this is a division game but come on. The Raiders are awful and not very motivated. With the way the Chargers offense has been rolling, getting balance from Rivers in the passing game and Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler on the ground, Oakland has very little chance to keep this one close.
Final score: Chargers 27, Raiders 13