The San Diego Chargers will travel north on Sunday for their first division game of the year when they visit the Oakland Raiders. The rivalry game has been moved to 8:35 p.m. PDT to allow the conversion of O.Co Coliseum from a baseball field to a football field after the Oakland Athletics playoff game.
The Chargers come into this matchup as heavy favorites against a highly penalized, inconsistent Oakland team. Philip Rivers is looking like he is rejuvenating his career under a new coaching regime in San Diego and seems to be playing lights-out football. Over the first four weeks of the season, Rivers has an 118.8 quarterback rating, second in the NFL. His second-ranked completion percentage of 73.9 percent is highly impressive as well.
Antonio Gates has done an extensive amount of impressing early on also, having racked up 364-yards receiving on 25 catches. Those numbers put him on pace for a 100-catch 1,456-yard season as we reach the end of the NFL season’s first quarter.
The Chargers’ defense held the Dallas Cowboys last week to a mere 317 yards of total offense and only allowing them to convert 33 percent of their third downs, so they should go into Oakland Sunday with an extra bolster of confidence.
For the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor showed some promise over the first three weeks of the season before being sidelined by a concussion against the Washington Redskins. He is the Raiders’ main offensive weapon, when healthy; he’s proven to be a dual threat. He’s passed for 624 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 198 yards.
Running back Darren McFadden is the Raiders’ main running threat, having rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sidelined against the Redskins with a hamstring injury and his status for Sunday remains uncertain.
The Raiders’ defense has held opponents to under 350 yards of total offense per game, but with a young and inexperienced Oakland secondary aside from Charles Woodson, I can’t see the Raiders slowing down Rivers’ hot offense.
Rivers will shred the Raiders’ secondary and the Chargers will force Pryor to throw the football. No McFadden will make the Raiders’ running game a non-factor, and Oakland will not be able to control the clock to keep Rivers off the field.
Chargers 35 — Raiders 17