Chargers vs. Raiders: What to watch for

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18: Bruce Irvin
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18: Bruce Irvin /

The Los Angeles Chargers travel to Oakland to face the Raiders. Here’s what to watch for:

The Chargers came away with their first win of the season last week when they beat the Giants on the road. Meanwhile, the Raiders have lost their last three games after starting the season 2-0.

Let’s take a look at what to watch for in Sunday’s contest.

1. The AFC West has been rough for the Chargers

I’ll leave this right here..

#Chargers have lost 15 of the last 16 against the AFC West. They are 0-4 vs. Raiders. Last win Nov. 16 2014 13-6 game was in San Diego.

— Fernando Ramirez (@RealFRamirez) October 15, 2017

2. Chargers’ defense against a banged up Derek Carr

Raiders QB Derek Carr has been dealing with a back injury but is expected to play on Sunday. While Carr is one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL, he’s not at 100 percent, and the Chargers should take advantage of that, especially if Carr’s mobility is limited. L.A. has the best pass-rushing tandem in the league with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Ingram, who’s making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year, will go up against one of the top offensive lines in the games. Winning in the trenches is key in this game, for both teams.

3. Keep Philip Rivers upright

I mentioned that Oakland’s offensive line is one of the best. The Chargers’ line isn’t (though free-agent acquisition Russell Okung is having a great season thus far). While Philip Rivers has only been sacked six times, he’s been pressured and hit more often than not. Pass protection has been better than run blocking for this team, but they will be tested against star pass-rusher Khalil Mack.

4. Keep feeding Melvin Gordon

A week after touching the ball 11 times, Gordon finished with 163 yards from scrimmage on 26 touches (20 rushing attempts and six catches), including rushing for 100-plus yards (105) for the first time this season and scoring two total touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He ended up winning the AFC Player of the Week award for Week 5. Balance is key, as is taking pressure off of Rivers, who tends to make mistakes when he does too much. Let Gordon lead you to victory.

5. Mike Williams makes his debut

The Chargers’ 2017 first-round pick (No. 7 overall) will play for the first time this season! Don’t expect Mike Williams to see a ton of snaps, but the Bolts should use the big-bodied receiver in the red zone and on third downs.

5. Say hello to Johnny Pags

John Pagano, the former defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers from 2012-16, is now the assistant head coach for the Raiders. You know he wants this win badly after finding out he was fired through the media.