Matchups to Watch: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
The Oakland Raiders will be looking for a season-sweep over the San Diego Chargers in Week 15. Here are the matchups to watch.
Be sure to check out the Matchups to Watch column from the Week 5 contest between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, as many of those will once again be in play in Sunday’s rematch.
Let’s jump right into it.
Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Crabtree vs. Casey Hayward
Michael Crabtree had a strong start to the season, but has been in a bit of a rut as of late. He has averaged less than 50 yards per game over the last two weeks and has been plagued by drops since the Houston game. Crabtree’s continued slump certainly played a hand in Derek Carr’s struggles against Kansas City, with a couple more dropped passes.
On paper, this game seems to lean heavily in the Oakland’s favor, but if Carr’s most reliable receiver continues to drop passes, this could make for another close game.
Casey Hayward, on the other hand, has had a phenomenal season. He currently leads the NFL in interceptions by a substantial margin; with 7, and the next closest player having 5. This offseason I was hoping that Reggie McKenzie would tap into his Green Bay connections and snatch up Hayward, but unfortunately for the Raiders, Hayward moved a little further down the state. The transaction has been phenomenal for the Chargers.
When it comes down to it, Crabtree is simply more talented than Hayward. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Crabtree is fighting through a finger injury similar to the one that Derek Carr is ailing from. Crabtree will need to bounce back this week and begin to get on a roll before the start of the playoffs, especially with it looking more and more likely that the Raiders will have to make a run from a wild card spot.
Aug 12, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele (70) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Kelechi Osemele vs. Darius Philon
There are not enough superlatives to describe the play of Kelechi Osemele. He has turned the Raiders offensive line into a bully, reminiscent of Raiders teams from the 70s.
On Thursday night he suffered from a bout with kidney stones, one that hospitalized him. His absence was a huge blow to the strength of the OL and the overall psyche of the team. The typically strong rushing attack lacked the usual push that Osemele provides.
Darius Philon hasn’t been much of a contributor to the Chargers this season, recording only 10 tackles this year, but it looks like his playing time is on the uptick. The Chargers will be without the help of star rookie DE Joey Bosa, who is out with a neck injury.
Philon’s frame is more of a fit as a five-technique or a DT, but the Chargers are running out of bodies. If they want someone stout enough to hold up at the line of scrimmage then they will have to give up a lot of pass rush skill with Philon.
While Philon will see a lot of snaps at DE against Oakland’s tackles, San Diego will likely try to supplement their pass rush by sending heat from Philon’s side. When that happens, the Raiders will likely compensate by having Donald Penn pass off Philon to Osemele, as Penn takes the blitzer. If that’s the case the Raiders will be able to gash the Chargers on the ground. A pass blitz could be what gets the Raiders rushing game going against one of the league’s best rush defenses.
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) catches a touchdown pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
David Amerson vs. Tyrell Williams
If you read “Matchups to Watch” every week, then 1.) Thank you for supporting JBB, and 2.) You know that David Amerson is almost always involved in one of the matchups that is most combustable.
Amerson’s season has been a mixed bag, he has had some great games that make it look like his big offseason extension was worth it, but mostly there has been a lot plays where Amerson has looked like he’s regressed. His lack of speed is now being exploited by teams. As the pass rush improves down the stretch it should help Amerson’s play but until then, fast and talented WR’s will be a real threat.
Tyrell Williams has had a breakout year this season. After starting out as the No. 4 WR on the depth chart, he has now elevated himself to possibly the most explosive weapon on the San Diego offense (particularly with Melvin Gordon likely being out). Williams is a true big play threat, averaging over 20 yards per reception in 7 of the games this season. He has 6 TDs and is less than 100 yards away from a thousand yard season. At 6’4”, the dynamic Williams will be a major threat to burn the Raiders for a long score or two.
Amerson has the size to matchup well against Williams but, as far as overall athletic ability goes, it looks like Williams has the edge. Amerson will ultimately have to be overwhelmingly physical with Williams at the line of scrimmage and at the catch point. He will need to use his length to keep the ball out of Williams’ hands, that will be the best way to limit big plays from the only healthy weapon that the Chargers have left.
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