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Keys to the Game: Chargers vs. Raiders

Posted Dec 20, 2013

Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.

Here are five keys to the game heading into this week’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders:

1.  Rebound from Week Five– The last time these two teams faced each other was the Bolts worst offensive performance of the season.  They had a season high five turnovers, with three of Philip Rivers’ nine interceptions on the season coming during that week five late Sunday night match in Oakland.  They managed a season low 36 yards on the ground and failed to score twice when in the red zone.  On the season, the Chargers have had one of the more prolific offenses in the NFL, and Ken Whisenhunt says they can’t have a repeat performance of the first time these teams faced off:

 

“I don’t think that we played well when we played against them last time. They outplayed us. They were physical and we didn’t run the ball as well as we would have liked to run. We didn’t get points in the red zone twice, which you can’t do. We turned it over. So (there) are a lot of things that we’ve got to do better this week.”

 

2.  No Big Plays from McGloin  – Fans may not realize it, but Matt McGloin has been one of the most prolific big play passers in the league since taking over as starting quarterback.  Since Week 11, he has completed 15 passes of 25-or-more yards which is more than any other quarterback in the league.  He also leads the league in completions of 20-or-more yards with 25. For a closer look at how effective McGloin has been since he stepped in under center, check out this week’s Bolts Breakdown:


Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s defense did a terrific job not allowing many big plays to the Broncos last week.  Back in Week 5, it was a tale of two halves for the Bolts defense as they allowed big plays early on before clamping down during the final 30 minutes of play.  Pagano says they need to play that way for a whole 60 minutes this time around, especially considering McGloin’s big play potential:

“The number one thing was we didn’t give-up big plays like we did in the first half. In the second half we tackled better. Doing those two things is probably the key to any defense’s success, especially with what they did. I think it was the first play of the game when they took a 45-yard shot over our head. We didn’t play good football that whole drive. We have to settle down and play better in the second half.”

 

3. Keep Pounding It With MathewsRyan Mathews was forced to leave the Week 5 tilt with the Raiders in the first half due to injury.  His absence combined with trying to climb out of a big hole limited the offense to just 36 yards on the ground.  Now, with Mathews playing at a high level,  the Chargers have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL..  As noted numerous times, he is tied for the most games surpassing 100 yards with five and has over 1,000 yards on the season.  The Raiders defense has specialized in stuffing the run, ranking ninth in the NFL and fifth in the AFC by allowing just 103.9 yards per game.  Still, Nick Hardwick likes the way Mathews has been running the ball and knows they will need to rely on his powerful legs on Sunday:

"I think he is just being very decisive. He knows where he wants to get and he is getting there in a hurry. He is running downhill. The kid is an incredible athlete. He is built like a block of granite. He is a pretty intense specimen, so when he gets going downhill, he is inflicting some pain on these linebackers and safeties. Toward the end of the game, when we can start leaning on people, if we have the ability to run over the course of the game, guys don’t want to hit him so much. He is starting to get a couple extra yards at the end of all those runs. He is doing a great job just being clear in his cuts and very decisive in making one and sticking with it.”

 

4. Air it Out to Allen Keenan Allen was showing glimpses of big play ability during the first game with the Raiders before going off in a big way..  He finished the game with six catches for 115 yards and his first career touchdown.  Fast forward two and a half months and now Allen needs just 71 yards to set the team mark for rookie receiving yards and is 69 receiving yards shy of recording the 35th 1,000-yard season in franchise history.  Of his last five catches, four have gone for touchdowns.  Thus, Rivers has learned that in order to give his team the best chance to win he needs to find ways to get the ball into number 13’s hands:

"He just has that knack. I don't know how to describe it other than he has a great feel and will and ability. When I threw him the ball the other night, in his mind there was nothing that was keeping him out of the end zone. There is a long list of receivers that get tackled on the three or four yard line and in his mind it was just 'How am I going to get in?' There are certain guys that have it and certain guys that don't. He certainly has that knack and feel. He has great body control and I think for his size, his change of direction is awesome. He has change of direction like a guy that plays in the slot, yet he's a heck of a receiver on the outside.”

 

5.  Home Sweet Home – The Chargers end the regular season with back-to-back home games and they are relying on having the best crowds of the year. The last time they played at Qualcomm they said they had a huge boost from the fans in the stands which helped them beat the Giants.  Philip Rivers says he hopes for the same energy this week to help propel them to victory:

"It's funny, going into Denver I said if we win I imagine Qualcomm will be rocking pretty well for these last two. Hopefully we will have an awesome atmosphere on Sunday. I thought it was pretty good for the Giants game. It was loud and they were into it.”

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