Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been on a tear this season. Just last week he threw for over 500 yards against the Packers AT Lambeau Field. That wasn't a one-time thing either. After six games this season, the fiery QB is on a record pace. Just in time to face the Raiders' bottom ranked pass defense.
Here are a few stats Rivers has put up this season:
- He leads the league with 177 completions for 2116 passing yards. That is more than 350 yards better than the next guy on the list - the total of one very good game.
- Those numbers put him on pace to post 5643 passing yards this season. That would break the NFL's all-time single-season passing mark of 5477 set by Peyton Manning in 2013.
- In that game at Lambeau, Rivers completed 43 passes for 503 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He's just the fourth player in NFL history to complete 43 passes in a game. Most quarterbacks don't even attempt 43 passes. Rivers attempted 65 in the game.
"I think he has a great command of the offense," Jack Del Rio said of Rivers. "He's very competitive. He's accurate. He's got a lot of weapons that he uses. Very much in control of the offense and at the line, no-huddle most of the day, kind of directing things, trying to get them in a good play, stay away from bad plays, that type of thing. And he's operating very well right now, top of the league. Five hundred yards of passing last week in Green Bay against a good defense. We've definitely got our work cut out for us."
As for the Raiders pass defense, they have given up the second most passing yards per game (299.2) in the league. They did well to keep Peyton Manning down last week - holding him to 266 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions -- but then again every team has held Manning to low passing numbers this season. His 266 yards against the Raiders was actually his third highest total of the season and he has thrown at least one interception in every game this season, and at least two interceptions three times, including throwing three picks last week against the Browns.
The Raiders can't hang their hats on what they did against Peyton Manning who is clearly not his old (or young as it were) self. Rivers is clearly suffering no such issues.
Perhaps even more impressive about what Rivers was able to do over the early part of this season, is he did much of it without his Hall of Fame bound tight end, Antonio Gates, who was suspended for the first four games.
"I think all 11 guys are doing their job, and it's not just one guy, it's all 11," said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. "When you have a special quarterback like Philip, you can do great things."
Through the Raiders first four games, the quarterbacks they have faced have been Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Josh McCown, Jay Cutler. Of those quarterbacks, Josh McCown and Joe Flacco were the ones to surpass 300 yards passing. And those were the two who came out on the losing end.
Such has been the story for Rivers, who, even on his record pace sits with a 2-4 record on the season. Over the past two weeks alone he has thrown for 868 yards and 4 touchdowns -- 503 yards and 2 TD's against the Packers and 365 yards and 2 TD's the previous week against the Steelers -- and still came out on the losing end of things. How did he and the Chargers manage to lose those games? Ken Norton Jr thinks he has the answer.
"When you get in that red [zone], it's a lot smaller an area to cover," said Norton Jr. "And you saw at the end of the game, they (the Packers) made plays. It's about making plays at the right time. And they have a lot of good playmakers and when it came time to make a play, they made the play. That last play. So, you gotta take your hats off to Philip Rivers and the Chargers for getting down there and putting themselves in position to win and then the Green Bay Packers come and making the plays to seal the game. It's about finishing."
Finishing is exactly what the Raiders did in their two wins this season. Both of those wins ended with a Raiders interception to seal it.
Stopping a dealing Philip Rivers might be too tall an order for the Raiders to tackle. But that doesn't mean he can't be beat. As Norton added "He's gonna get his yards, and we'll do the best we can to keep him out of the endzone."