With a 3-1 record, the Oakland Raiders currently sit second in the AFC West, behind the Denver Broncos. Their Week 5 matchup against the San Diego Chargers is quite the stepping-stone, as it is their first divisional matchup of the season.
During a 16-game season, the divisional matchups set up the foundation for success. In order to make the postseason, a team must feast upon their divisional opponents, as the Raiders intend to do.
The Raiders secured both victories against the Chargers in 2015, presenting a stronger roster four games into the 2016 schedule.
While the Raiders have been trending in the right direction, the Chargers have been spiraling of late. The team lost receiver Keenan Allen, running back Danny Woodhead and cornerback Jason Verrett for the season.
The Chargers have lost two consecutive games, after securing their lone victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chargers lost their only divisional game, a 33-27 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy emphasized their battle against the silver and black, via Kyle Martin of Raiders.com:
“Raider week is a huge deal, I learned that early on… I don’t think we’ve got many guys who have grown up a part of it, a part of this division, we’ve got so many young players. Yeah, first thing: it’s a division game which makes it a big deal, throw in the fact of what I’ve seen over the last 12 years, two different cities, it’s an in-state deal.”
During the Chargers 2015 matchup at the Coliseum, the Raiders came out with a 23-20 overtime victory. A 31-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal put them ahead, while the defense earned a stop in Charles Woodson’s final home game.
That can summarize the 2016 Raiders season thus far, with both ends collaborating. The offense has provided the support, while the defense has closed the contest. Coach Del Rio has the entire roster buying into the scheme, as both units are focused on earning a team victory.
Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers chimed in on their opponents, stating the Raiders have assembled a commendable, improved roster:
“Obviously the Raiders, I feel like we’ve been saying it since, I don’t know what year, but they continued year after year…you look over there and say it’s a heck of a football team. They’ve got a heck of a quarterback on the offensive side, some skill players on that side, they’ve got two edge rushers, and a salty secondary. It’s a good team.”
Dating back three seasons, the Raiders and Chargers have each won three contests, forming quite the in-state rivalry.
With the Chargers trending downward, a dominant Raiders victory can create quite the separation between themselves and their division.
Off to their best start in a decade, coach Del Rio prepares for another competitive, hard fought battle. The Week 5 matchup is slated for a 1:25 P.M. Pacific Time start.