Sunday, December 5, 2010
Chargers Will Roll Raiders
The Raiders were leading at halftime against the Dolphins last week, but when Miami came out in the third quarter and scored on a 57-yard pass play from Chad Henne to Marlon Moore, you could see the team take a collective sigh. The game was over.
With a lack of leadership or a core of great players to inspire the others, this team will simply fold when things get tough. Now that this season has become rocky, it appears the Raiders have already quit. They may come out with some aggression today, but if the Chargers weather the initial storm and build a lead, the Raiders will soon stop believing they can win.
Oaklands' problems are compounded by the fact that they will be starting a quarterback whose confidence must also be shaky after getting pulled multiple times this season to be replaced by the fiery, but inaccurate and unskilled "gunslinger," Bruce Gradkowski. Jason Campbell seems to have the better temperament for an NFL quarterback, but with a 54% completion rate and a 75 QB rating for the season, he hasn't been tearing things up.
The Chargers pass defense has showed it's for real against Peyton Manning and the Colts. This group is feeling confident and will look to feast on some poorly thrown balls by a desperate quarterback. The Raiders know this and will likely try everything to establish the running game and pound the rock early. The strong play of Anonio Garay in the middle and Rivera's likely decision to stack the box and force the Raiders to beat the Chargers through the air will be the key battle to watch early on.
If the Chargers can build a lead of more than ten points and force the Raiders into third and long situations, this game will be over. The strong play of Cason and Jammer on the outside will let the San Diego put eight or nine guys in the box without fear to stop the speedy, powerful, and best player on the Raiders, Darren McFadden.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Chargers, it should be interesting to see who gets the majority of the carries. Mike Tolbert has become the number one running back, but now that he's ailing with an injured hand, will Norv try to give him more of a break by letting Ryan Mathews take more carries? Ideally, the Chargers would like to have both of these guys close to 100% going into next Sunday's game against the Chiefs.
In the passing game, the Chargers should dominate a defense that is 27th in the league in passing yardage given up. Getting Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee playing back at a high level without pulling hamstrings would be a major victory going into the last stretch of the season and hopefully the playoffs. Antonio Gates will once again be a game time decision. The Chargers probably don't need him for this game, but if he practiced this week and didn't do any more damage to his foot, he might as well go. His injury doesn't seem to get worse through use, it just needs time to heal. For the Chargers to have any chance in the post-season, Gates needs to be healthy.
The Raiders are, after a short period of delusion, again, a franchise in turmoil. They still don't have a true NFL quarterback or head coach, which has been a problem for awhile. The Chargers have looked like a team in playoff form these last few weeks, and as long as they aren't looking ahead to the Chiefs next week (and they remember what happened last time against the Raiders...maybe they should watch the video at the top of this to remind themselves), they should win this one easily at home.
Chargers 34, Raiders 10