When the Raiders renew hostilities with the Chargers on Sunday, they will see familiar faces. However, the Chargers offense feels different. Despite owning a .500 record, Los Angeles meets the Oakland defense with an explosive yet balanced attack.
Despite entering his fifteenth season, Phillip Rivers looks just as spry and energetic as ever. If you look at his tape and stats, you will see only two picks. For Rivers, ill-advised throws prevented him from greatness. In 2018, Rivers appears content will spreading the ball around. Six different Chargers were on the end of Rivers touchdowns. As always, the Raiders need to get Rivers to move. If the pass rush can force Rivers to throw on the run, the secondary will see chances for big plays.
For the first time since LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers’ backfield presents a serious, diverse threat. After battling injuries early, Melvin Gordon finally looks like the back that the team envisioned upon drafting him. Gordon’s blend of shiftiness and ability to gain the corner makes defenses pause. In addition, Gordon excels in the passing game, snaring three touchdowns on twenty-four catches/
Austin Ekeler may not be a household name, yet. However, Gordon’s speedy backup provides a change of pace and will get north and south in a hurry. Between them, Gordon and Ekeler tallied 129 touches and seven touchdowns
While people fixate on the other LA team’s receivers, the Chargers boast a solid duo. Granted, health among this group remains a fluid situation. Yet, Mike Williams gives Rivers a deep threat that will eventually dominate corners. His 17.1 yards per grab lay testament to that fact. The Raiders will need their secondary to play error-free with Williams. If there is a breakdown in coverage, put up six points.
With Williams finally healthy and stretching defenses, Keenan Allen can work the intermediate routes. Although Allen can get vertical, do not underestimate the “death by a thousand paper cuts” plan. If the Raiders give the Chargers too much cushion, Allen will pick them apart. Oakland needs to throw a myriad of looks.
In a season where the Raiders failed to generate any meaningful pass rush, the Chargers could start two reserves at tackle. Starting tackles Joe Barksdale and Russell Okung’s status remains questionable. If they do play, their efficacy could be limited.