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Raiders v Chargers: Buying and Selling

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Desperate for a bounce-back, the Raiders get a visit from the 1-4 Chargers this Sunday

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Thankfully the NFL season is a long one. After another week of disappointment (their third in a row), the Raiders get a visit Sunday from the 1-4 Chargers — a game that is nothing short of ‘must-win’ if the Raiders have any hopes of making the playoffs.

What makes the recent skid even more discouraging is that there isn’t a ‘bright spot’ that one can cling to as a source of hope. They’re banged up, the offensive and defensive lines have disappointed, the run game has disappointed, Amari Cooper continues to disappoint, the pass defense continues to disappoint, etc.

Well, if any of those units feel like bouncing back, this Sunday is their chance...

BUYING

Derek Carr

If he’s ready to go on Sunday, you can expect he’ll be prepared to put this group on his back. According to Jack Del Rio, the expectation is that he’ll be ready to go — which is exactly what this team needs at this point in the season. No disrespect to EJ Manuel (who actually played fine), but this team is desperate for a leader, desperate for some motivation and desperate for some offense.

In two games against the Chargers last season, Carr through for 530 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions — but now, with former Chargers Defensive Coordinator Jon Pagano in the room, I’d imagine Sunday turns into a big one for DC.

Keenan Allen

Maybe the most underrated receiver in football, Keenan Allen has been outstanding this season — racking up 401 yards thus far. This Sunday is one Allen probably has circled on the calendar simply because the Raiders passing defense has been suspect at best, allowing 733 yards over their past three losses.

Obviously Allen’s performance will depend on the health of the Oakland secondary, but even if they’re at full strength, the Raiders have yet to show they can slow down a guy of Allen’s ability.

Melvin Gordon

With high expectations coming into the season, Gordon finally rewarded those who were patient — going for 163 total yards (105 rushing, 58 receiving) and 2 touchdowns last weekend. Of course, you could write a performance off by saying, ‘well, that was against the lowly Giants’ — except it seems as if ‘lowly’ is a good word to describe the Raiders’ defense of late as well.

In this three-game skid, the Raiders have allowed over 400 rushing yards — not to mention another 16 receptions in the passing game — to opposing backs. What’s even scarier is that Gordon is by far the best back they’ve seen this season.

SELLING

Jared Cook

14 targets in his past two outings and only six receptions for 71 yards (plus a costly fumble returned for a touchdown). While Amari Cooper has been the focus of criticism offensively for Oakland, Cook hasn’t been without his own flaws thus far.

Sean Smith

Please, oh please, oh please, let Gareon Conley and David Amerson be healthy this weekend. Smith came in as Reggie McKenzie’s big signing a couple of summers ago and he has been a massive dud — to the point where you even wonder if this season reaches the point they just release him.

While Jack Del Rio mentioned in his press conference that one of the two touchdowns wasn’t completely on Smith (he said that Reggie Nelson should have been helping over the top), that doesn’t erase what was a disastrous performance in a game where Oakland desperately needed the defense to step up.

Antonio Gates

Notorious for killing the Raiders, Gates has reached the twilight of his career and finally appears to be on the way out. While the playing time is still there, Gates is clearly a secondary option at tight end to youngster Hunter Henry — which means the Raiders might finally be able to ‘stop’ him for a change.