The Oakland Raiders, in the midst of the three-game losing streak, may have found their “get well” potion in the form of this week’s opponent in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum: the reeling Los Angeles Chargers.
Even though the Chargers scored their first victory of the season a week ago against the equally struggling New York Giants, they are a team with major problems. The Raiders are still a bit banged up with 11 players listed on the injury report, but there are indications that quarterback Derek Carr will be back under center.
Carr was listed as “limited” with a back injury.
“I was ready to play last week in my head,” Carr said at this week’s press conference. “I think that’s how I always think. We’ll let coach make that decision. My job is to show up every day. Nothing changes for us. He monitors the quarterbacks like he does every day, just like he does each position. We’ll go from there. My job doesn’t change. I just have to go out there and practice hard, show him that I’m ready.”
Offensively, the Chargers have an outstanding running back in Melvin Gordon, who has rushed for 273 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. The Raiders rank only 23rd agains the run, so it will be important for the defensive front of Mario Edwards Jr., Eddie Vanderdoes, Justin Ellis and Khalil Mack to have a good game.
If the Raiders can control the front line, it will bode well since the Chargers passing attack has been erratic. Philip Rivers has thrown for 1,365 yards so far with nine touchdowns, but has also given up five interceptions. Keenan Allen has been his favorite target so far with 401 yards on 28 catches with one touchdown.
The Chargers touted duo of tight ends, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, have combined for only 23 catches, but three touchdowns. Strong safety Karl Joseph will need to have a strong game to keep the tight ends out of the end zone.
Carr’s return hopefully will help bring Amari Cooper back into mix. Cooper was to only one catch for eight yards last week against Baltimore with EJ Manuel running the show. The Raiders offensive production will hinge upon the play of the offensive line against the strong Chargers front line of Melvin Ingram (7.5 sacks) and Joey Bosa (4.5 sacks).
It will be important to keep the banged up Carr clean and also open up some holes for Marshawn Lynch, who is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry this season.
Game time is 1:25 p.m. in Oakland. The Raiders are currently a 3-point favorite in a game in which a point spread wasn’t available earlier because of the uncertainty of Carr’s status.