The San Diego Chargers head to “The Black Hole” to face the Oakland Raiders this Sunday. The Raider offense is ranked 9th in the league in overall offense. They are ranked 6th in rushing the ball, but ranked 20th in passing the ball. The Raiders have allowed 13 sacks, which ranks 4th worse in the league, and they have thrown 6 interceptions, only the Lions and 49ers have thrown more.
Here are the key players to the offense:
QB Bruce Gradkowski
“Bruce Almighty” took over the starting position from the ineffective Jason Campbell in week 2 of the season. Gradkowski has been sacked 7 times and has thrown 4 interceptions. He has played fairly well and will be tested by the NFL’s number 1 defense. The defensive player of the week, Shaun Phillips, will look to apply pressure and looks to add to his sack totals. The Chargers should be able to apply pressure on him and force some interceptions and possibly a fumble. If Gradkoski decides to scramble, the defense should be able to put a good lick on him, he thinks that he is a running back.
RB Darren McFadden
“Run DMC’ was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft and has been the reason for the improvement in the rushing attack this season. He has 392 yards rushing and 2 TDs this season. McFadden injured his hamstring last week and may miss this game. He has not been able to practice this week and Michael Bush will take his playing time if he is unable to go.
RB Michael Bush
Bush is not as talented as Mcfadden but he is still a pretty good runner. The Chargers actually showed interest in making a trade for Bush. Bush only has 10 carries this season, but has a 5.3 average and a TD. He likes to run up the middle and try to break tackles. It will be up to DT Antonio Garay, LB Stephen Cooper, and LB Kevin Burnett to stuff the middle against this team.
TE Zach Miller
Miller is the biggest threat in the passing game. He stands at 6’5″ 255 pounds and has good hands and finds ways to get open. The Chargers have a history of having trouble covering Tight Ends. The running game of the Raiders has opened up the field more for Miller this year as well. He already has 2 TDs this year and is one away from his career high. Kevin Burnett and the safeties, Eric Weddle and Paul Oliver, will need to cover Miller. He is their favorite target in the red zone.
The Raiders offense is missing their top threat in Darren McFadden and will have to hope that Michael Bush can carry the load. Expect the Chargers to get an early lead which will force the Raiders to throw the ball more. This will allow Phillips and the rest of the linebacking crew to pin their ears back and go after Gostkowski. The Chargers should be able to apply pressure on him and force him into a few turnovers. Expect the Bolts to continue their impressive defensive numbers against the Raiders.
Check out our article on NFL.com also: http://boltbeat.com/2010/10/07/letter-dear-raiders-fans/