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Breaking Down the Opponent: Keys to Victory Week 16

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With only two more Sundays of Raiders football left on the season, Oakland gets to attack the Chargers in Los Angeles. The previous meeting between these two teams saw the Raiders defense play their best game all year, sacking and intercepting QB Philip Rivers at a record clip. Since these two teams played, each has only managed to win one game apiece.

Let’s take a look at the Chargers last three games to see what they’ve done well and what weaknesses the Raiders may be able to exploit.

Chargers offense

Austin Ekeler has been far and away the Chargers most dynamic threat on offense this season. The speedy back is a threat on every down with his ability to rush the ball and win in the passing game. The Raiders linebackers are not capable of stopping Ekeler, and he will be able to produce against this defense. If the secondary can stop the other receivers, however, it may be enough.

Pass protection has been the achilles heel of the Chargers offense. Philip Rivers has been under duress all year, and it has shown in his play. The Raiders were able to beat this offensive line like a drum the last time these teams played each other. I’m starting Maxx Crosby as an individual defensive player in my fantasy football playoffs this week.

After smoking the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14, the Chargers came back down to earth in Week 15 against the Vikings. Their offense gave up a whopping 7 turnovers last week (3 interceptions, 4 fumbles) in a blowout loss at home. The Raiders took advantage of Rivers throwing YOLO balls like this in their last meeting. The Chargers are going to have turnover worthy plays, the defense needs to capitalize.

Chargers defense

The Raiders have to contend with the likes of Derwin James. The Pro Bowl safety was injured all season and only recently came back into the starting lineup. He is an incredible playmaker in the box and is able to play the edge like a defensive end in addition to his abilities in coverage. With the Josh Jacobs absent this week, the offense will be missing their biggest punch. The run game will struggle this week and the Chargers defense has only allowed over 100 yards rushing in a handful of games this season.

The Chargers run defense is good, but their ability to rush the passer is even better. Joey Bosa is an elite defensive end in the NFL. He and Melvin Gordon will trade sides and whoever is going after Brandon Parker could have a career day on Sunday. Expect Jon Gruden to keep backs and tight ends to help against these edge rushers.

The one area where the Chargers have struggled this season is in coverage. In every game I’ve watched, they have allowed multiple big plays through the air due to mental lapses in the secondary. The play above is one such example, as two defenders line up over the WR disguising bracket coverage. The only issue is that neither actually takes the man in front of them; both DBs look to take a crossing route. The Chargers will get complicated on defense at times, and it can bite them in the butt. Derek Carr will need to take advantage of these errors, because it is the only chink in this Chargers defense.

Keys to Victory

Offense

  • Defy tendency and don’t allow Chargers pass rush to tee off
  • Keep backs and tight ends in for pass protection
  • Take deep shots

Defense

  • Get after the QB
  • Help LBs in coverage
  • Take the football away