The Oakland Raiders will play their second consecutive home game on Sunday as they host the Los Angeles Chargers in a key AFC West matchup. The Raiders will look to snap a three-game losing streak to their divisional rivals.
The Chargers got their first win of the season last week, beating the New York Giants 27-22 on the road. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns in a game that ended the Chargers’ nine-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Oakland leads the overall series over the Chargers 62-50-2.
Three Things to Watch
1. Philip Rivers
While the Chargers have won just one game this season, it isn’t because of the play of Rivers. He enters Week 6 ranking fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 1,365 and seventh in touchdown passes with nine.
Rivers will face a Raiders defense that is giving up only 226.6 yards through the air during their first five games.
Oakland is one of three teams that hasn’t recorded a single interception this season. Cornerback Dexter McDonald said he is aware of the drought and hopes he and his teammates can get some opportunities against Rivers this weekend.
“I mean, we definitely want those interceptions. Turnovers help win games,” McDonald said. “I think we’ve got to keep working, taking it week by week, and when they do come, they usually come in bunches.”
2. Derek Carr
Carr missed last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens due to a back injury he suffered against the Denver Broncos in Week 4. He was replaced by backup EJ Manuel, which was one of the contributing factors to the Raiders’ third straight loss.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said earlier this week that he is expecting Carr to start against the Chargers. Earlier this week, Carr said he didn’t expect the back injury to limit him in any way.
“No. If it was restrictive, I wouldn’t put my teammates in a bad spot. That’s for sure,” Carr said on Wednesday.
Before his injury, Carr was having a fantastic season with 753 passing yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 101.2. Certainly, Carr’s return will give the Chargers’ defense something else to worry about on Sunday,
3. Mike Williams
Los Angeles hopes to finally have its first-round draft pick on the field Sunday. The wide receiver, the seventh overall pick in the draft, missed all of training camp and the first five games due to a back injury. In his final season at Clemson, Williams caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 13 touchdowns.
''He's shown some things just in the time he's been able to be back on the field with us, that you can quickly see why he was taken where he was taken, just physically the things he can do,'' Rivers said earlier this week.
If Williams can show he’s healthy and can get up to speed quickly, it will just give Rivers more weapons to choose from.
In a game where both teams desperately need a win, it appears the Raiders have the advantage. Derek Carr is expected back, which will greatly help an offense that was limited with backup quarterback EJ Manuel at the helm.
Look for Oakland to stretch the ball downfield and then use Marshawn Lynch and the running game to control the clock.
On the other side of the ball, Khali Mack and the Raiders’ defense has done an excellent job of getting pressure on Philip Rivers in the past. Oakland hasn’t recorded an interception to this point, but Sunday could finally be the day.
Chargers and Raiders game are typically close, and this one shouldn’t be any different. Los Angeles should keep it close, but Oakland should pull out the narrow victory at home.
Prediction: Raiders 27, Rams 24
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.