While their records are inverted versions of one another, the Oakland Raiders say the Chargers' record doesn't truly reflect who they are as a team, noting the Bolts can't be taken lightly.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio made that message very clear to his players
"They're a good football team who has jumped out and been really in-command in the first half (of games)," Del Rio said. "They've had a lead in every game and have played very well. Philip (Rivers) is doing his thing; he's a great competitor. They're averaging over 30 points a game, offensively. They're playing really well and (Defensive Coordinator John) Pagano's done a nice job with their defense…. The league is really close and often, it comes down to being able to make a couple plays at the end. So not a lot separates being happy or being miserable; that's part of our business. But, we recognize that the team is really well-coached and we're getting ourselves prepared to match that."
Del Rio said from looking at the tape offensively, he's "seeing a lot of good plays being made." He added that despite the tremendous amount of injuries the Bolts have sustained, they're "still putting up huge numbers and really moving the ball well."
As for the other side of the ball, Del Rio called the defense "stingy against the run" and "sticky with their coverage." Quarterback Derek Carr noted the group is "talented and opportunistic."
While division games are hard-fought, Carr says he doesn't prepare for them any differently than other ones. However, he admitted the biggest challenge when preparing for the Chargers is both physical and mental.
"The biggest challenge on game day is obviously the physicality of it but (also) the mental side of things," Carr said. "Coach Pagano will bring it from anywhere and he'll bring pressure from everywhere. I know that to be true because he's done it to me numerous times! We always have to be ready. You have to prepare for things you see and prepare for things they do not show; things that you think they could do out of certain looks. So prepare for absolutely everything and be surprised if they don't do it."
One of the biggest Bolts' playmakers on defense is cornerback Casey Hayward. Number 26's three interceptions is currently the second-best in the league. Having played the Green Bay Packers last season, Oakland has some familiarity with Hayward's game but cited his smarts and awareness make him one to game plan for.
"(Hayward's) definitely a very smart player," Carr added. "He's a gifted athlete, has great feet (and) a great feel for the game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."