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Raiders vs. Chargers: Five questions with the enemy

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: While the Raiders prepare to take on the Chargers, who as of this posting still play in Los Angeles for some reason, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Peterson of Bolts From the Blue. Michael was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the Chargers lack of home field advantage, Philip Rivers’ struggles and more.

Q: At this point, the Raiders have a larger, more established fan base in LA, leading many to jokingly suggest that Sunday will be a home game for the Silver and Black. Has a lack of true home field advantage hurt the Chargers record?

Oh yeah, it’ll definitely be a home game for the Raiders. In all honesty, I’ve always hated the team playing at home since they moved to LA. It hasn’t been because of the lack of fans, but because the atmosphere just isn’t the same. When they play away at normal-sized NFL stadium, the noise level and overall energy is what they are used to. When they play at home, the lack of noise is likely unsettling and doesn’t supply the normal amount of adrenaline some players rely on. In the end, I do think it’s affected the team, but not in the same way that the coaching staff and some suspect decision-making has cost them.

Q: Philip Rivers has had quite the uneven season in 2019, leading many to speculate on his future with the team beyond this season. What’s your best guess regarding the Chargers plan at quarterback in 2020?

I believe the Chargers will likely draft a quarterback in the 2020 draft but I fully expect Rivers to be the starter for another season. He has already said on multiple occasions that he wishes to play in the new LA stadium, and I can’t imagine he will just retire right before it opens following one of his worst years in recent memory.

Q: The Chargers had really high hopes for this season. What’s been their biggest downfall this year, and is there an obvious fix?

Their biggest downfall has been Philip Rivers and his roller-coaster of a career. Since the team let LaDainian Tomlinson walk, the Chargers have only made the playoffs twice. They made the postseason five times in Rivers’ first six seasons as the starter. His deteriorating arm strength is evident and he has developed a habit of chucking the ball into double-coverage whenever the team is behind in the fourth quarter, almost as if he doesn’t care to march down the field. He has gotten used to his tall receivers bailing him out and he just doesn’t have that type of personnel this season.

This might be a surprise that I didn’t mention anything about injuries, but I just believe other great quarterbacks have been in similar situations and they always found a way to make-up for it.

Q: In the first matchup between these two teams, Melvin Gordon had his only 100 yard rushing performance of the year. Do you think he’ll top the century mark again while facing the league’s No. 29 overall rush defense by DVOA?

I can definitely see Gordon topping the 100-yard mark in Sunday’s matchup, but not if Rivers throws the Chargers into an early hole like he has done in every AFC West divisional game this season. If the Bolts find themselves down 10+ in the first quarter, expect a healthy dose of Austin Ekeler out of the backfield.

Q: What’s your prediction for this game?

I think the Chargers surprise everyone and play a clean game against the Raiders. Rivers likely throws an interception but the rest of the offense finds a way to click from start to finish. The Raiders will also find themselves taking care of the football and this game becomes a little bit of a shootout. However, I give the Chargers the edge at 27-24.