Next in the Oakland Raiders opponent breakdown are the Los Angeles Chargers. Oakland will face the Chargers twice with one of the games in the Bay Area (11/11) and the other at the Raiders’ second home in Los Angeles at the StubHub Center (10/7).
Los Angeles gave the Raiders fits last season winning the first meeting 17-16 in Oakland and the second meeting 30-10 in Los Angeles.
Derek Carr has historically performed well against the Chargers, but that was not the case this past season as Carr threw for just 414 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.
In terms of Los Angeles in general, many considered it the best team in the NFL to miss the playoffs. The Chargers had an impressive offense led by Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen as well as a great defense with two elite pass rushers on either edge with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
However, the team pulled a classic Chargers’ move early in the season by losing close game after close game. Los Angeles started 0-4 before winning nine out of its last 12 games.
2018 NFL.com Power Rankings: #11
2017 Total Offense: 4th yards for, 13th points for (22.2 ppg)
2018 Total Defense: 15th yards against, 3rd points against (17 ppg)
Matchup 1: Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram vs. Donald Penn/Kolton Miller
More likely than not the play of Donald Penn and Kolton Miller will decide the outcome of the two meetings.
Bosa and Ingram had 23 sacks in 2018 in addition to Pro Football Focus player ratings greater than 91.7 which placed both of them in the top 7 of all edge defenders in the NFL.
As such, there might not be a tougher test in the league than Bosa and Ingram. And the Raiders will possibly be trotting out a rookie right tackle in Miller and an aging left tackle in Penn who is coming off foot surgery.
Not a great recipe to stop a formidable pass rushing duo.
Ultimately, Penn and Miller have the talent to get the job done, but there are serious question marks regarding health and age.
Matchup 2: Amari Cooper vs. Casey Hayward
Casey Hayward might be the most underrated defensive player in the league.
For whatever reason, Hayward doesn’t get the recognition despite shutting down one-side of the field and grabbing 11 interceptions in his two seasons as a Charger.
Interestingly enough, Amari Cooper either plays remarkably well or is nonexistent against the Bolts. In 2015, Cooper backed up his five reception, 133 yard and one touchdown game with just two receptions for 10 yards.
In 2016, Cooper started the season against the Chargers with six catches, 138 yards and one touchdown but finished with one reception for 28 yards.
The following year, Cooper had just 28 yards in the first outing but tallied 115 receiving yards and a touchdown in the season finale against Los Angeles.
What will hold true? Will Cooper have one of his great games against the Chargers or a poor one? It has been a true coin flip throughout his career.
Matchup 3: Raiders’ secondary vs. Philip Rivers/Keenan Allen
Against Oakland, Rivers has dominated. He is 16-8 and has thrown for 252.3 yards per game along with 41 touchdowns to just 18 interceptions.
In addition to Rivers, Keenan Allen is coming off a season with more than 1,400 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns.
All in all, Rivers and company has owned the Raiders thanks to a poor secondary that made Geno Smith look serviceable.
Fortunately, Oakland’s secondary is almost entirely new with Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin expected to be the two new starting cornerbacks.
So hopefully the new faces can change the trend that has existed between Rivers and Oakland. If not, it could easily be another 30-point game dropped on the Raiders by Rivers.
Oakland didn’t fare well last season against the Bolts and that is not acceptable if the Raiders want to compete for a division crown.
Against Los Angeles, there are plenty of great match ups that will test Oakland’s weaknesses in the secondary and at offensive tackle. If the Raiders haven’t improved at those positions, the upcoming season against the Chargers could look eerily similar to 2017.