Tale Of The Tape: San Diego Chargers At Oakland Raiders
- QuarterbackPhilip Rivers is in the midst of a sensational year, but few are noticing because of Peyton Manning’s record-setting start. He was at his best in the Chargers’ Week Four win over the Cowboys as he completed 35-of-42 passes for 401 yards. Rivers has always been a confident thrower, but he is tempering that with intelligence.Matt Flynn got the start in Week Four against the Redskins, and he can be a competent leader if Terrelle Pryor can’t play in this game. Flynn is a solid pocket passer but he is going to have a tough time getting away if the Chargers can put pressure on him. Pryor has escapability and he can throw the ball well on the run.
- OffenseThe Chargers are getting just enough from Ryan Matthews in the running game to keep opposing defenses honest. He runs hard between the tackles but he is not a breakaway threat. Tight end Antonio Gates had a sensational game against the Cowboys with 10 catches for 136 yards and a score. Danny Woodhead gets open and Rivers will find him.The Raiders would like to see Darren McFadden take over and deliver a 100-yard rushing effort. However, he has a hamstring strain and is unlikely to play. Rashad Jennings is an adequate backup because he can run effectively and catch passes. Denarius Moore has the speed to get downfield and make an occasional big play.
- DefenseThe Chargers have shown the ability to limit big plays this season. That came into play against Dallas as the Cowboys did not have a play from scrimmage longer than 34 yards. Defensive end Corey Liuget had five tackles against the Cowboys and also had 1.0 sack as he flashed his quickness. Linebacker Donald Butler is a hard hitter coming off an eight-tackle effort.The Raiders are not a sophisticated defense, but they are hustling and playing with excellent effort. Linebacker Nick Roach has proved to be a solid acquisition as he has the kind of range needed to break up plays. He had seven tackles and a forced fumble against the Redskins. Safety Charles Woodson still has something left in the tank after recording seven stops and 1.0 sack vs. Washington.
- Special TeamsThe Chargers have been decent in their coverage teams. They believe that either Eddie Royal or Woodhead can give them a big return. Nick Novak is proving to be one of the league’s more dependable placekickers, while Mike Scifres knows how to drop his punts in the opponent’s 20.The Raiders have struggled in punt and kickoff coverage, but they blocked a punt for a touchdown vs. the Redskins. Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal attempt in Week Four vs. Washington, but he still has excellent leg strength. Marquette King averaged 44.9 yards per punt in Week Four.
The Chargers are determined to change their defeatist persona, and that’s the main reason they fired Norv Turner at the end of last season and brought in Mike McCoy, The Chargers are 2-2, but they could easily be 4-0 if they could have finished off games against Houston and Tennessee. They appear to be stronger than the Raiders. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor