Redzone

ChargersRaiders

 

The Chargers currently sit at an abysmal 1-3 record. Chargers fans all around the world are used to the Bolts blowing leads and not being clutch when it matters most, but this season takes on a whole new level of the word “disaster.”

Essentially speaking, for every lead they have blown thus far (three) they have had major injuries. Just to name a few key players that were going to help this team compete this season, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Manti Te’o and Jason Verrett have all suffered season-ending injuries and its only Week 5.

So, to say that this season isn’t a rose garden in heaven is an understatement. However, I feel like these next two games can entirely make or break what the Chargers want to do this season. Facing the Raiders this Sunday in Oakland and the Broncos on a short week will be one of the biggest two-game stretches of games the Chargers have had in recent memory.

In the past 13 division games dating back to the start of the 2014 season, the Bolts are a lousy 2-11. That pair of wins coming from a sweep of the Raiders in 2014. Other than that, the Chargers could now easily be considered the little brother in the AFC West. The 2015 season in particular stands out the most because they just continuously kept getting pummeled.

The Raiders dominated the Chargers in their first meeting in 2015 at Qualcomm, much like the Chargers were doing to the Chiefs Week 1 of this year. The difference in those games? The Raiders didn’t fold completely and let the Chargers back into the game, as that game ended in a Chargers’ loss, 37-29. A couple of games later they hosted the Chiefs in a game where they failed to find the endzone. In fact, they failed to find the endzone in both meetings last year against the Chiefs and in one meeting against the Broncos.

 

Everything seemed to be different this year, as the Chargers literally bolted out to a 21-3 lead at the half. Well, we all know what a big lead meant at that point when you have Mike McCoy: a blown lead. The Chargers failed to get into the endzone in the second half of that game and gave us all flashes of last year while the Chiefs came all the way back to tie the game up on a two-minute drill drive aided by a very poor punt from the Bolts that gave the Chiefs life around midfield. The Bolts got hit with a double whammy that game, as their star receiver Keenan Allen went down with a torn ACL forcing him to miss the entire season.

Sunday, they face the Raiders at O.Co Coliseum. While the Raiders will most likely be without recently emerging Latavius Murray, the Chargers will also be without a stud of their own in Jason Verrett.

Just a couple of days ago, the Bolts learned that Verrett had been playing with a partial tear in his ACL. He underwent tests and, like Keenan, is now out for the rest of the season. This injury is devastating to an already banged up secondary.

Brandon Flowers is dealing with a concussion and Craig Mager is also banged up. It’s most likely going to be the Cooper and Crabtree show, and if they can’t get some magic going of their own on offense, they could be in for a very long day and an even longer week.

Now, if you can develop a consistent pass rush on the quarterback, it could in some cases make the most average corners look elite. It looks like the Chargers are getting major reinforcements in that department, as Damion Square’s four-game suspension is up and the God, Joey Bosa, is making his NFL debut. Though both will most likely be on limited snap counts, it still helps the defense immensely.

 

While Oakland’s offense has been great this year, ranking 4th in the league in total yards with 392 yards per game, the Chargers are no slouch. Even though they are ranked 14th in the league, their offense is scoring a scorching 30 point per game. Both defenses could be better as the Raiders are ranked 31st in the league and the Chargers are 20th. If the Chargers want to have a shot at taking control of this game and creating serious momentum, they are going to have to get Melvin Gordon going. While he has scored a TD in every game including two in Week 1, the run game has taken a dip in production in the yardage department. After totaling 305 rushing yards through the first two weeks, the Bolts got slowed down to just a measly 75 yards in the last two games against two of the worst rush defenses in the Saints and Colts.

It can be argued that Derek Carr is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league this year, posting a blistering TD/INT ratio of 9 to 1 and having a 104.6 QB rating while completing almost 60% of his passes. He’s been great for the Raiders and, without a doubt, clutch on a couple of game-winning drives. The Chargers must make him feel uncomfortable right out of the gates. Bosa will play a key part in this game. Although he could very well struggle in the early parts of the game, his athleticism and length will draw double teams at some point, giving other players like Jeremiah Attaochu, Corey Liuget and Melvin “Supa Mel” Ingram one-on-ones.

This game should come down to the last couple of minutes. The outcome of the game will be determined by who punts the ball more and who gets more turnovers. I can honestly see the Chargers winning this game as long as they play their own game. Keep scoring, don’t take your foot off the gas, get some stops on defense and come away with a huge upset. Easier said than done.

 

Unfortunately for the Chargers, things don’t get easier. They have a short week and host the Broncos on TNF next week. So while coming away with both wins would be monumentally huge for the team going forward, it’s a daunting task that the team has to step up to and be willing to face head on. This Broncos’ defense is scary. You don’t have to check out stats to know who Von Miller, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are. They anchor a fast, young, ball-hungry crew that almost is a lock to score a defensive touchdown every game. They only give up around 170 passing yards per game. They have an excellent secondary benefited by a great pass rush, which is the recipe for success as they are 4-0. It’s not too far-fetched to say the Bolts can grab one of these wins, because when you have Philip Rivers, you are truly never counted out of any game until the clock hits :00.

 

The Chargers are 0-2 on the road this season, but I believe they should win this Sunday at the Raiders. That will prove to be a small spark to what can be fireworks next Thursday.

Oh yeah, have you guys seen those Color Rush unis?!? They are to DIE for!! Possibly my favorite looking unis I have ever seen over all sports.

So, tell me and let me know what you guys feel or think about this hell week coming up. Can the Chargers end their 0-9 drought against their division, or will it turn to 0-11 by next Thursday?

Anything can happen on any given day. If there is one thing we can all agree with, it’s that the Chargers are the hardest team to predict how they’re gonna play or what’s going to happen. It makes it hard to predict but I will take a whack at it.

 

I say the Chargers lose a tight contest to the Raiders by the score of 35-31, with the defense having an opportunity to stop the Raiders and give the ball back to the Chargers’ offense to finish it off. They’ll come up short, however, they will rebound at home and look good while doing it with a 27-17 win against the Broncos.

 

Charlie LaFurno

@CharlieMack29

 

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