Week 9 in the NFL featured a 4-0 sweep by the AFC West. All four teams won, but the most important victory (other than the Raiders) was the Los Angeles Chargers embarrassing the formerly 7-1 Green Bay Packers in a 26-11 game that felt like more of a blowout than the scoreboard showed.
The Chargers’ game is so important because they are headed to Oakland for a Thursday night matchup to kick off Week 10. Yes, the Raiders are getting off a five-game road trip just to play two games in four days. But at least the game is at home.
Not only are the Chargers coming off their biggest win of the season by far, they may have found new life following this victory. Not to mention that their game against the Raiders will determine who stands at second place in the AFC West.
After experiencing Matthew Stafford hanging 406 passing yards on the Raiders’ defense, the team must now face the NFL’s leader in passing yards, Philip Rivers. If fans can expect anything from this game, expect Rivers to be throwing the ball quite well.
This is the situation defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has placed the team in. The goal for the defense has shifted from stopping the other team from scoring to just slowing the opponent’s offense down enough to prevent a blowout.
“Defense wins games” never specifies how good the defense has to be to win. Maybe a lucky defense can win more than a good one. As egregious as that may sound, it is the hope many Raiders fans are clinging to.
Offensively, the Raiders should be relatively comfortable. The Chargers have recorded seven interceptions, which ties them for 10th in the league, but their sack count, pass and rush yards allowed all fall among the bottom 12 teams in the league.
The Chargers should not be looked at as just a 4-5 team. In addition, their win against the Packers did not feel like an “any given Sunday” type of win. It has to be assumed that the Chargers have everything figured out and will storm into the Coliseum with a little bit of swagger.
The Raiders offense is clicking, but defense will be the major key to victory on Thursday. Rivers and a combination of Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon have the potential to run rampant against any defense. If Guenther and the Raiders’ defense had to choose to prioritize run or pass, attack the pass. Run defense has not been a major issue for the team. However, as we know, quarterbacks have been typically successful against the Raiders.