Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders: How they match up
HOW THEY MATCH UP
Chargers (4-5) at Oakland (4-4)
When Chargers have the ball
After going four weeks without even a walking game — never mind a running game — the Chargers rediscovered their legs Sunday in a 26-11 victory over the Green Bay Packers. They totaled a season-high 159 yards rushing in 38 carries, with Melvin Gordon (80 yards, two touchdowns) and Austin Ekeler (70 yards) both being productive. The Chargers were able to commit to their ground attack in part because they scored on three of their four first-half possessions and three in a row to start the second half. They went up early on the Packers and never trailed. Oakland, however, is “built to stop the running game,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “Their front seven is really big, powerful. It’s going to be tough to establish the run on this group.” The Raiders rank seventh in the NFL in rushing defense, yielding 92.5 yards per game. But Oakland has struggled to stop the pass. In fact, no defense in the league is worse, the Raiders at No. 32 with an average of 297.5 yards allowed per game. They have given up 400-plus yards passing twice — to Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers — and 383 yards Sunday to Matthew Stafford. Philip Rivers has topped 300 yards five times in nine games but not the past two weeks.
When Raiders have the ball
Running back Josh Jacobs is no Marcus Allen. He’s better — at least as a rookie. Jacobs already has topped Allen’s franchise record for rushing yards as a first-year player with 740 in 152 attempts. For the record, Allen appeared in nine games for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982. Jacobs broke Allen’s old mark last week, in his eighth game. “If he two-steps a defensive back and it doesn’t work? He’s going through your chin, and that’s the end of it,” Chargers defensive lineman Damion Square said. “He boom-boom and coming right at your chin.” The Raiders are sixth in the NFL in rushing; the Chargers are 20th in stopping the run. But the Chargers’ defense is coming off a game in which it dominated Rodgers and Green Bay, thanks in part to the offense’s ability to use much of the clock. Defensive end Joey Bosa is putting together his finest, most complete season to date. He has 51/2 sacks and 17 tackles over the last three games. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr has been sacked once since the end of September. The Raiders have permitted only nine sacks all season, the second-lowest total in the league behind the Pittsburgh Steelers, with eight. Carr has nine touchdowns and one interception over his last five games.
It could get messy in Oakland on Thursday when the Chargers make their final pilgrimage to Oakland, where Raiders fans will be amped for AFC rivalry game.
When they kick
Since joining the Raiders in midseason a year ago, Daniel Carlson is 23 of 26 on field-goal attempts and 41 of 41 on extra points. He has found a home after struggling in Minnesota, which drafted Carlson in the fifth round in 2018. The Chargers also discovered their current kicker in the middle of last season. However, Michael Badgley missed the first eight games of 2019 because of a groin injury, returning Sunday with four field goals, and one miss, against the Packers.
Jeff Miller’s prediction
Both teams are coming off dramatic wins — the Chargers whipping Green Bay and the Raiders holding on in the final seconds to beat Detroit. Both also are desperate for wins to remain alive for a playoff berth. This is supposed to be the final time a Chargers team plays in Oakland, with the Raiders set to move to Las Vegas in 2020. And it’s a night game, meaning the Black Hole, despite its name, will be plenty lit.
RAIDERS 23, CHARGERS 21
Go beyond the scoreboard
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