With playoff hopes on everybody’s mind, the Oakland Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers in a crucial division matchup.
Game Info: Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) @ Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Time: 5:20 PM PT
Venue: Oakland Coliseum
TV/Radio: Fox, NFL Network/Raiders Radio Network
Playoffs on the line, for both teams
Both of these teams are fresh off huge victories on Sunday. We all know the Raiders grabbed a big win against the Lions, and the Chargers are coming off a very impressive 26-11 win over the Packers.Â
The Chargers defense was effective in shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, and they’ll look to do that against the Raiders offensive unit. The Raiders totaled 450 net yards against Detroit, with Josh Jacobs collecting 120 on the ground, and Derek Carr throwing for 289. Both of these units looked very good last Sunday, so this should be a key matchup Thursday night.
Both teams have collected four wins on the season, but the Chargers have one more loss. With the 5-3 Colts occupying the second wild-card spot, this is pretty much a must-win game for both teams.Â
Final night game at the Coliseum
The Raiders have always had a strong 12th man, Raider Nation. This Thursday will be the last time we see an NFL football night game at the Coliseum.
There have been so many memorable moments in the stadium, and as the amount of home games dwindle, the crowds will get crazier each week as Raider Nation realizes these memories will soon be coming to an end. You can expect a crazy crowd Thursday night.Â
Raiders’ keys to win:
1) Pound the ball with Josh Jacobs, but only right up the middle
Josh Jacobs has easily been one of the biggest keys to Oakland having success this year. He’s currently the runaway Rookie of the Year, and he’s gonna have to play well for the Raiders to be victorious on Thursday.
He needs to be used the right way, though, and the way the Raiders have used him this season will work well against LA.Â
Aaron Jones has had a very good season, but the Chargers were able to contain him last Sunday, for just 29 yards from scrimmage. The main reason for this is because the Packers kept trying to run Jones to the outside on zone-running plays, which leads the play right to the Chargers’ star edge players, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
The Raiders, however, run most of their run plays up the middle, with 22% of their runs going right behind the center. This is the much weaker part of the Chargers defense, and if the Raiders stick with this strategy, Jacobs will fare much better than Jones did last week.Â
2) Contain Melvin Gordon and the Chargers’ rushing attack
This is another strength for the Raiders. Ever since Melvin Gordon’s return from his holdout in week four, the Chargers haven’t been able to get much of anything going on the ground. Gordon had his best game of the year last week, totaling 80 yards and two touchdowns. It’s worth mentioning, though, the Packers have a below average run defense, and we saw Jacobs run all over them a few weeks ago.
This is another key matchup, but one the Raiders should also do well in. While stopping the run is the only thing this defense has done well this season, they’ve been very good. The Raiders own the seventh best run defense in the league, allowing just 92.5 yards per game, and have allowed just two teams to rush for 100 yards against them. This is another matchup the Raiders carry an advantage in, and the defense will need to step up and contain Gordon and Ekeler, to secure a win on Thursday.
3) Pass Defense MUST step-up
As I just mentioned, the Raiders stand a great chance to contain the Chargers rushing attack, and I think they will on Thursday. However, The Chargers passing attack is much scarier.
Phillip Rivers is quietly putting together another amazing season. At age 38, Rivers is showing no signs of slowing down, as he leads the NFL in passing yards at 2,609. He is top ten in the league in interceptions at seven, but he’s been putting up numbers, and he’s always a threat to carve up any defense, especially this one. His best weapon, Keenan Allen has had a rough past few weeks, but he’s still easily a top ten receiver.Â
This passing attack is no joke, and while it’s struggled recently, it should still be considered one of the best in the league.
The Raiders pass defense gets weaker this week. We learned today that Arden Key will likely be out for the year with a foot injury. Key had recorded a sack in both of the past two games, and his injury is a shame since he looked to be having a much better year.Â
The defense was poor last week against the Lions, but in the fourth quarter they did just enough to win the game. They’re gonna have to do the same thing Thursday Night.
Injuries (as of Tuesday)
DNP: Cortez Broughton, DT, Geremy Davis, WR, Justin Jackson, RB, Denzel Perryman, LB, Roderic Teamer, S, Sam Tevi, T
LP: Justin Jones, DT, Brandon Mebane, NT
DNP: Arden Key, DE (out), Josh Mauro, DE
LP: Trent Brown, T, Dwayne Harris, WR/RS, Erik Harris, S, Rodney Hudson, C, Andre James, OL, Nicholas Morrow, LB, Daryl Worley, CB
FP: Jonathan Hankins, DT, Joash Jacobs, RB,
I think the Raiders grab a crucial division win on Thursday. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense is able to throw the ball well all night, but Melvin Gordon, and Austin Ekeler get contained. Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr both have great games, and the Raiders roll on to 5-4.