No other team in the league yields more yards on the ground than the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sitting at 1-4 overall, the Chargers defense has been run through and around to the tune of 806 yards on 160 carries. That’s a 161.2 per game and 5 yards per carry averages. Six carries have been of the 20-plus yard variety (long of 69) and 42 have been for first downs.
That should ring a sweet melody to the ears of Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing. The two AFC West rivals meet this Sunday and it’s an opportune time for Oakland to get its ground game flourishing. After rough outings against Washington and Denver, the 2-3 Raiders showed semblance of an effective ground and pound game against Baltimore last week. But falling behind early forced the Raiders to alter the attack.
Through five games, the Downing-orchestrated ground attack is ranked 22nd with 453 yards on 109 carries (90.6 per game and 4.2 per carry averages). The Raiders have ran 20-plus yards and 40-plus yards twice this season with a long of 52.
Soak all that in and by establishing the run early — coupled with the return of franchise quarterback Derek Carr — it’s not hard to imagine a successful approach by the Raiders. Imposing their will on the ground is going to open up the aerial attack (via play action) and allow Oakland to set tempo.
Of course, Los Angeles could flip the script. That gameplan is similar to what the Bolts will want to do.
While the Chargers’ rushing attack is ranked 27th (393 yards, 3.8 per carry), the Raiders run defense is ranked 25th (623 yards allowed, 124.6 per game and 4.1 per carry averages, on 151 carries).
L.A. quarterback Philip Rivers loves the play-action bombs and Oakland has given up 16 passes of 20 or more yards and four of the 40 or more variety. And Rivers is going to be willing to gamble especially with the Raiders secondary being an interception-less unit.
All Time Series: Raiders lead 63-50-2
Last Meeting: 12/18/16 Raiders 19, Chargers 16
Passing: Philip Rivers, 1,365 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 6 sacks
Rushing: Melvin Gordon, 273 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving: Keenan Allen, 401 yards, 1 TD
Tackles: Jatavis Brown, 46
Sacks: Melvin Ingram, 7.5
Interceptions: Tre Boston and Adrian Phillips, 1
Passing: Derek Carr, 753 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs, 8 sacks
Rushing: Marshawn Lynch, 194 yards, 2 TDs
Receiving: Michael Crabtree, 252, 4 TDs
Tackles: Karl Joseph 36
Sacks: Khalil Mack 4
Jameis Winston channels his inner Ric Flair