After a fourth straight loss, the Raiders head to San Diego to take on the Chargers in another AFC West matchup. The Raiders will be looking for their fifth win of the season and a season sweep of the Chargers.
The Chargers are clinging to hope for a postseason berth and the Raiders can effectively end that possibility with a win.
Let’s take a look at the five keys to victory for the Raiders over the Chargers:
The Raiders were torched last week for over 300 passing yards and five touchdowns. The Chiefs used a more conservative passing game, as opposed to the Chargers deep passing attack. Regardless of how the yards are gained, the Raiders will need to be able to shut down Phillip Rivers and his group of receivers. The Chargers have four pass-catchers with over 500 receiving yards, led by receiver Keenan Allen.
The Chargers average 279.5 passing yards per game, while the Raiders allow just over 250 to rank 24th in passing defense. The defense will have to stop Allen and tight end Antonio Gates to have any chance at earning a victory. In their first matchup, the Chargers were able to move the ball through the air successfully but Rivers was intercepted three times to keep them out of the end zone.
The Raiders will have to match up and play tough in the secondary to be able to defeat their division rival.
The rookie quarterback had his toughest game of the season last week, throwing four interceptions and being substituted for Terrelle Pryor late in the game. He still managed to throw for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns but his turnovers blew any chance the Raiders had of winning the game. McGloin will have to take care of the ball and lead the offense to scoring opportunities.
McGloin will be looking to prove that he is a capable quarterback that can play an efficient game and keep the ball in his team’s hands. The rookie should have little trouble moving the ball against the Charger defense and could find himself in another shootout. McGloin will have to keep up with Rivers and the opposing offense.
The Raiders have put their faith in the right arm of McGloin and he will have to deliver.
In order to keep the Charger offense off the field, the Raiders will have to turn to the running game to keep drives alive longer. A steady dose of Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece will be needed to attack the Chargers’ 14th-ranked run defense. The run game should open up the passing game for McGloin to be effective.
The Raiders head into the game with the sixth-best rushing attack and should be able to keep the chains moving. The offensive line has been healthy the past few weeks and should lead to some big holes for Jennings to run through. If the offense can run the ball effectively, then the defense will be well-rested for the high-powered Charger offense.
Jennings will have another big game and help the Raiders slow the pace down to their comfort level.
The Raiders have seen themselves lose out on important stops this season because of their inability to stop teams on third downs. The defense has been a surprise for the team this year but have failed to reach an elite defense status because of their issues on third down. On the year, the Raiders have allowed their opponent to convert 41.1% of their third down plays.
The Chargers have the best third-down completion percentage in the NFL and will be looking to improve their 48.3% completion rate against the Raiders. The defense will have to stop Gates and running back Danny Woodhead, as they are the two primary targets for Rivers on third down.
The Raiders will have to end drives when they have the chance to give them the best chance to win.
The Raiders may find themselves in a shootout that could come down to a field goal from long range. Janikowski had been one of the best kickers from long range until his struggles this season. The longtime Raiders is 19-27 this season and has missed key field goals in a few close games that may have cost the team a few wins.
Janikowski will have to be on his game against the Chargers, especially if the Raiders are looking to take points whenever they are in range. The kicker still has the trust of the team and will have to reward their trust with some consistency.
Look for the game to come down to a few points, where a Janikowski field goal could provide a difference.