By Dave Thomas
With their first win under their belts, the Los Angeles Chargers look to make it two in a row this Sunday when they travel to Oakland to meet their long-time AFC West rivals.
Breaking a nine-game slide dating back to last season, the Chargers escaped New Jersey this past Sunday with a 27-22 win over the New York Giants. The victory left the Bolts with a 1-4 mark through five games.
Now that their attention is turned toward the hated Raiders, the Chargers will look to put together a modest winning streak, hoping to get back into a challenging AFC playoff hunt.
In getting the win over the Giants, the Chargers were able to put together a complete game for the first time this season. While the defense sacked New York quarterback Eli Manning five times, the offense had production both through the air and on the ground.
Most notably, running back Melvin Gordon had his best game of the season. Gordon not only rushed for more than 100 yards, but he also caught six balls for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns from quarterback Philip Rivers. In all, it was a relatively good day for a team that was desperate for its initial win of the 2017 campaign.
Opportunity Awaits Playing Oakland
One of the more heated rivalries in the NFL gets renewed when the Chargers and Raiders tangle in the Bay Area. Having won four of the last five meetings, Oakland will look to bounce back from its 30-17 home loss to Baltimore last Sunday.
With starting quarterback Derek Carr nursing a back injury, backup EJ Manuel got the starting nod. In the loss to the Ravens, Manuel went 13-of-26 for 159 yards and a touchdown. Safe to say, the Chargers would much rather face Manuel than Carr.
Oakland, which began the season 2-0, has now dropped three straight contests (they’ve been outscored 73-37 in those losses). As a result, the Raiders have fallen three games behind first-place Kansas City (5-0) in the AFC West.
If the Chargers can get a win up north, it sets them up to host Denver the following Sunday in Los Angeles. The Broncos and Chargers opened the season up in Denver, with the home team scoring a narrow 24-21 victory.
Maybe Road Is Best Place For Bolts?
Having nearly won their first road game of the season in Denver, the Chargers then came home to Los Angeles and lost three straight in their temporary digs in Carson, California.
As word quickly spread around the NFL, the Chargers’ temporary home is anything but a home field advantage. This was especially noticeable in losses to Kansas City and Philadelphia, respectively. With fans of the opponents cheering their respective teams on, Los Angeles really doesn’t have the advantage that many other teams around the league enjoy.
In looking at the remaining home schedule, one would have to guess that games with Denver, Washington, and Oakland will mean a lot of cheering for the opponent. The other two home games, dates with Buffalo and Cleveland, respectively, could be in the Chargers’ favor.
No matter how you look at this season that is just past the one-fourth mark, you have to come to terms with the fact that the Chargers are a mediocre team at best.
While things could change as the season goes along, don’t be in a hurry at this point to be expecting the playoffs.
As a fan, how would you grade the Chargers through five games?