The Raiders went to Southern California to take on their division rival San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in a Week 16 matchup. The Raiders dropped their fifth straight game and fell to 4-11 on the season.
Next week, the Raiders end the season against another AFC West opponent, as they welcome the Denver Broncos to O.co Coliseum. The Broncos will be a tough end to a tough season, but first, let’s take a look at what was trending up and down this week for the Raiders.
The defensive lineman had a career day, finishing with 15 tackles and a sack to lead the defensive line. Sims’ season-high on tackles was five before Sunday and he recorded a sack for the second straight week. He was a big part of the defense’s ability to hold Charger running back Ryan Matthews early in the game.
Sims has had a strong season for the Raiders, clogging up the running lanes and providing a big body on the line. He now has 51 tackles on the season and led the team for the first time this season. The 28-year-old enjoyed success against the Chargers’ offensive line.
The Raiders take on the Broncos and their high-powered offense and Sims will need a repeat of Week 16 to try and stop them.
The Raiders called upon their longtime kicker two times on Sunday and Janikowski was perfect on the day. He made kicks of 20 and 42 yards to quiet some of his critics for at least a week. The 35-year-old was in some pain before the game but was able to overcome it when needed.
Janikowski has struggled all season and it has cost the Raiders a few opportunities to possibly win more games. He has drawn the ire of Raider fans, after becoming one of the most reliable kickers the past few seasons. The kicker is now a perfect 3-3 the past two weeks and had made six of his last seven to end the season strong.
The Raiders will need more than field goals to defeat the Broncos but an accurate Janikowski is another weapon for the team to use.
The second-year receiver continued his strong play with five catches for 71 yards. Holmes has developed a connection with rookie quarterback Matt McGloin and has been a solid pass-catcher in recent weeks. He made a few plays on the fly with McGloin under pressure that showed his repertoire.
Holmes now has 22 catches for 393 yards and a touchdown in nine games for the Raiders. He has continued to show his talents and has helped strengthen the passing attack. The undrafted receiver out of Hillsdale has carved himself a niche in the offense.
With quarterback Terrelle Pryor named the starter this week, Holmes may see his targets drop as Pryor has not worked with him much.
The rookie recovered from his four-interception game last week and turned the ball over just once this week; however, he was not as sharp and was unable to get the offense going. He finished with 206 passing yards, but missed a few passes that would have led to more points. McGloin overthrew a couple balls that may have been guaranteed touchdowns.
After the game, head coach Dennis Allen named Pryor the starter against the Broncos, making McGloin the backup. The former Penn State quarterback has played well at times this season but has made some rookie mistakes the past few weeks and the Raiders want to take another look at Pryor.
McGloin may not see any snaps next week and his rookie season will end where it began, on the bench.
The Raiders knew the task at hand before the game, with the Chargers being the best team on third down in the NFL. The Raiders were unable to stop the success of the Chargers and allowed them to convert six of 11 attempts. The defense has had trouble all season forcing that final stop and continued this week.
The ability to stop a team on third down is what separates a good defense from a great defense and the Raiders have struggled to make the jump. The Chargers were able to keep drives alive by avoiding a punt or field goal and it provided a big difference in the game.
The Broncos bring another strong offense that has had success on third down and the Raiders will have to try to stop them.
The Raider kick returner had a tough day that became even worse when he fumbled at a crucial point in the third quarter. Jenkins fumbled the ball on a kick after the Chargers had just went up by 10 points. The Chargers turned the turnover into another three points to push their lead to 23-10.
With the Raiders down 13 instead of 10, the offensive game plan changes and may have caused the Raiders to play a way they did not want to. Jenkins was not effective in the return game, as he constantly ran right into the tackle and averaged just 23.3 yards per return.
The Raiders must be able to protect the ball on kickoffs and try to put themselves in better field position, which is what Jenkins failed to do.