How Raiders can position themselves to beat Chargers
Five things Raiders can do to beat San Diego
Each week the Raiders focus on winning the next game. They hope those efforts eventually add up to a playoff berth. The Raiders' weekly mission finally melds with their ultimate goal on Sunday. If they beat the Chargers in San Diego, a postseason slot is secured. There’s no motivational speech necessary this week, even with plenty left to accomplish. The Raiders were disappointed to lose control of the AFC West on Thursday against Kansas City, but are fired up to clinch a spot in the AFC tournament. Here are five things that must happen to achieve that end.
Home away from home
Chargers fans expect a “black out” Sunday afternoon, where Raiders fans take over Qualcomm Stadium when the Silver and Black come to town. That happened regularly after the Raiders moved from Los Angeles to Oakland in 1995, especially when they were good. L.A. fans flock toward the closest locale to see their favorite team, but numbers dwindled over the last decade during a Raiders downturn. They’re back up now, and fans are excited to make the San Diego trip and root for their favorite team. The Chargers are pumping in crowd noise a practice before a home game, a sign that the Silver and Black will be well supported in San Diego.
4) Account for TEs in the red zone
The Raiders have struggled against top-flight tight ends this season, and the Chargers have a couple. Future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates and rookie Hunter Henry have combined for 11 touchdowns this season, and the Raiders must limit that number to keep the Chargers at bay. That responsibility falls on linebackers Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley, and especially safety Nate Allen. These three Raiders defenders must account for this pair of playmakers and ensure they don’t score points and keep drives alive on third down.
3) Rev Carr’s engine
The Raiders' passing game had an off night on Thursday against Kansas City. Derek Carr blames execution, not a bum pinky or bitter cold, for an unfit performance in a crucial game. A few intermediate to deep completions could get Carr and his receivers back in gear after a rough game last week. If that happened early, it could provide a shot of confidence to skill players in need of a boost. The Chargers' secondary is banged up as well, and some well-timed passes could put the game away early.
1) Control the clock
The Raiders want to be explosive on offense, and those plays never hurt. A steady running game, however, could grind out an important win. Kelechi Osemlele will be back after a bout with kidney stones, and the Raiders would be right to run behind him with big back Latavius Murray. He’s been steady of late, keeping the Raiders on schedule while churning out first downs at a regular clip. The Chargers have a solid rush defense, but the Raiders like to run when it’s predictable. If they can do that, it could produce a rare win generated with ease.