The Oakland Raiders will host the San Diego Chargers Sunday night. The two AFC West rivals come into the game much improved from a season ago. The Chargers bring their 2-2 record to face the 1-3 Raiders in an important early division game.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor returns after missing last week with a concussion. He is symptom free and ready to make his second start against San Diego. In Pryor's first career start, he combined for three touchdowns in a 24-21 road loss to the Chargers. His development since that game has been tremendous and he will need to carry the offensive load with running back Darren McFadden doubtful. It must be football season because McFadden will miss time due to injury. Back-up Rashad Jennings, who played well last week, will take over for McFadden.
Even without McFadden, the Raiders will want to run the football. The San Diego defense comes into this game allowing 120.5 rushing yards per game. Pryor will most likely try to make some plays with his legs, but it will be difficult with the state of the Oakland offensive line. Left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered torn triceps and will be out several more weeks. Starting center Stefen Wisniewski has a knee injury and is doubtful. Tackles Tony Pashos and Menelik Watson are questionable along with guard Lucas Nix. The Raiders offensive line, which has been suspect all year, will be a patchwork group for San Diego.
The Chargers defense has given up bunches of yards this season. Their pass defense allows 312.3 yards per game. Pryor will have some opportunities to take advantage. Wide receiver Denarius Moore has played well in consecutive games. Rod Streater is a reliable target and rookie tight end Mychal Rivera is becoming a large part of the passing game. The Raiders are going to have to take advantage of this defense in order to keep up with a Chargers offense playing well.
San Diego's offensive is led by a rejuvenated Philip Rivers. The quarterback has 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions so far this season. Rivers' play has brought tight end Antonio Gates back to a high level. He has had a resurgence this season with 25 catches for 364 yards and two scores. Rivers will also look to running back Danny Woodhead out of the backfield. At wide receiver, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal are the players to watch for the Oakland defense.
The Raiders have the ability to stuff running back Ryan Matthews are force the Chargers into a one dimensional passing offense. The key to beating Rivers, like most quarterbacks, is pressure. Lamaar Houston and company on the defensive line will have to get him out of rhythm. When Rivers has time, he gets the ball out quickly and accurately. If he starts to get knocked around, he is prone to mistakes and turnovers.
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