Last Sunday, the San Diego Chargers traveled to Carolina and dropped a game to the Panthers, in a really poor showing by the Bolts.
Philip Rivers was abused all game and the team turned the ball over five times.
This week, the team returns home to face their rival, the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders will have extra rest, having played their last game on December 8th against the Chiefs. As we do every week here at EVT, lets take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of this weeks opponent.
1. Khalil Mack
Last time the Chargers played Oakland, Mack was in a bit of a slump and wasn’t overly dominant. However, for the last seven weeks he’s been playing like a man possessed. The third-year pro has 11 sacks for the year, and has shown the ability to take over a game at times. Look for the Chargers to slide protection his way in order to keep Mack off Philip Rivers. The offensive line will have their hands full with him.
2. Derek Carr
I have to admit that I was wrong on Carr at the beginning of the season. I wrote how I thought Carr was overrated and was due for a bad season. But Carr has proven me wrong time after time this season. The guy plays with tremendous poise for a young QB and is not afraid to make any throw at any situation. He reminds me of Brett Favre. Carr played horribly for the first time in 2016 against KC last week, so look for him to be motivated to get back in the MVP conversation. The Chargers will be without Brandon Flowers, so Sunday could be a big day for Carr.
Surprised? I know a Guard rarely gets noticed, but it’s time to give Osemele his due. He signed with Oakland in the off-season and has been an instrumental part in Carr’s MVP-type season. He’s great against the pass and also excels in the running game. The defensive will have a hard time getting pressure on Derek Carr from his side of the line.
Oakland has a very dynamic offense, but I think they could be better at TE. Walford is not horrible, but he lacks big play-making ability. He also sometimes lacks consistency catching the ball, so if the Chargers can contain the receivers on the outside they should be able to keep the Raiders offense in check. Walford hasn’t shown the ability to control the middle of the field, so the safeties might need to help on the outside more than the middle of the field.
Oakland’s O-line has been one of the best units so far this season. They have a weak link though, and that’s Howard. He struggles with speed rushers and also is known for having problems with pre-snap penalties. Look for Joey Bosa to put pressure on Howard from the outside. He and Melvin Ingram should be able to get to Carr on Sunday from time to time.
To me this is very simple, the thing that may keep Oakland from reaching the Super Bowl is the fact that don’t have a true no. 1 cornerback. Amerson is not bad, but he’s not very good either. Last week he struggled in man coverage against the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, so maybe Dontrelle Inman can have success against him on Sunday.
So there it is. Sunday will be a tough game because the Raiders are in the middle of the playoff hunt and cannot afford to lose a game.
The Chargers better be ready to compete, or this one could be an ugly game for San Diego.