After falling to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, the Oakland Raiders battle the LA Chargers at home this Sunday.
Thus far, the LA Chargers have struggled to 1-4 with last season’s late-game woes following them into 2017. Unfortunately for Oakland, last year’s success hasn’t made the trip over to this year, yet. There are reasons to believe the Raiders will defeat the Chargers and end the Silver and Black’s three-game skid.
Reason 1: The Return of Derek Carr
The “Chosen One” shall return this week. In Week 4, Carr went down with a fracture in his lower back, perhaps the stress from having to carry the team last year. He missed the battle with Baltimore with EJ Manuel doing a solid job in his absence. Carr and the Raiders have been victors in the last four meetings between the two squads. In his six career meetings with the Chargers, Carr has tossed eleven touchdowns to four interceptions. This game, however, has more meaning than stats can do justice. The Raiders have been embarrassed the last three weeks. People are beginning to lose faith. “Captain Carr” will show Raider Nation and the NFL what he and the Raiders are made of Sunday. Expect a massive day from number 4.
Reason 2: LA’s Offensive Line
The Chargers’ offensive line is nothing short of horrendous. Per Pro Football Focus, three of their five linemen grade below a 40.7 through five games. Phillip Rivers should spend much of Sunday under duress from former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. Mack only has one sack of Rivers so far in his career, which was his first career sack. This will probably change, however, as the Chargers have surrendered 17 sacks already this year. The Charger’s offensive line has also struggled run blocking. As a team, they have yet to reach 400 yards on the ground, and Melvin Gordon sure isn’t the problem. The Silver and Black defensive line will need to dominate Sunday and if they don’t it should cause major concern.
Reason 3: Special Teams
The biggest advantage Oakland has in this game is in the third and most forgotten phase of the game. Special teams isn’t very attractive. People don’t pay hundreds of dollars to see punts, field goals, and returns. However, special teams will have a major role in this week’s game. The Chargers are terrible on special teams. They are 5/8 on field goals this year and on their second kicker.
Compared to 8/8 from Giorgio Tavecchio and the Raiders. The Chargers’ punter, Drew Kaser, is solid but he isn’t Marquette King. King averages more yards, has more punts inside the 20, and has half as many touchbacks in one fewer attempt than Kaser. Cordarralle Patterson is also the best kick returner in the world. He is averaging ten more yards a return than LA’s best kick returner, rookie Desmond King. Even without stalwart kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders possess a major advantage on special teams.