Game Scout: Raiders at Chargers

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Oakland Raiders (4-10) at San Diego Chargers (7-7)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker
*Keys to the game: The Raiders see the run -- via committee with Rashad Jennings, Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece and the occasional read-option series or play by quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- as the road to victory. QB Matt McGloin is gaining desirable matchups -- his 15 pass plays of 20 yards or more leads the NFL over the past five games -- but if the score telegraphs the need to air it out, Oakland tends to hit the skids. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers conceded he was confused by the Raiders' mix of coverage and blitz package amidst rotating fronts in Week 5. That same pass defense has been waylaid by Geno Smith (Jets) and Alex Smith (Chiefs) for a total of 93 points the past two games. Rivers also has polished rookie WR Keenan Allen into a gem in the two-plus months since the Raiders allowed his breakout performance with six catches for 115 yards in October.
*Matchup to watch - Raiders SS Brandian Ross vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates -- Ross has started since Week 3 and was an early revelation before recent issues in coverage. Gates is San Diego's leading receiver with 79 receptions for 799 yards. At 11.4 yards per catch, Gates is a big move-the-chains threat capable of bigger damage against Oakland's woeful third-down defense.
*Player spotlight - Raiders WR Andre Holmes: Playing ahead of Denarius Moore, Holmes is averaging 18.4 yards per catch (14 receptions, 257 yards) over his last three games.
*Fast facts: Rivers became the sixth player in NFL history with five season of 4,000-plus passing yards. ... The Raiders have not started the same quarterback in consecutive games at San Diego since Kerry Collins (2004-05).
San Diego does its part to preserve a Hail Mary's chance at crashing the postseason party with a fourth win in the past five games.
*Our pick: Chargers 24-23

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