▪ Opponent: vs. San Diego ▪ Time: 1:05 p.m.
▪ Line: Chargers by 7 ▪ Records: Raiders 0-4, Chargers 4-1
▪ TV/Radio: Ch. 13 (Kevin Harlon, Rich Gannon), 950, 1140
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is playing some of the best football of his career, posting a passer rating of at least 120 in each game during the Chargers’ four-game winning streak. Only Kurt Warner and Johnny Unitas have streaks that long in NFL history, but Rivers knows how quickly fortunes can turn. “The one thing about it is when you’ve won a handful in a row that you can’t just think that winning is easy,” Rivers said. “It’s hard to win a game every week, and we have that mindset.”
Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano pulled quarterback Derek Carr aside soon after taking over as coach and told him the team had no time for Carr to be a rookie anymore with a leadership void on the losing team. Carr has shown progress in his first four starts but has not done enough yet for a win. “He’ll continue to grow,” Sparano said. “He’s had some bumps along the way here, bumps in the road, and he learns from them. But we’re happy with what he’s done.”
For a school that is far from a football powerhouse, the University at Buffalo has turned out two intriguing rookies this season. Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack is living up to expectations after being picked fifth overall, but his former college roommate, Branden Oliver, has been a revelation for the Chargers. The undrafted rookie ran for 114 yards and a touchdown last week against the Jets in a performance that was a surprise to almost everyone other than Mack. “I let everybody know during the draft process that he was one of the best running backs that I ever played against, even though it was practice,” Mack said.
Fired Raiders coach Dennis Allen and Chargers coach Mike McCoy are longtime friends who worked on the same staff in Denver and take family vacations together. McCoy said he has talked to Allen since his firing and is confident his friend will get another chance as an NFL coach soon. “That’s all part of the business,” he said. “We’re doing our thing here, and it’s all part of the business. We all understand that when we get into it, it’s part of the process.”
Sparano promised a stronger commitment to the run game when he took over. The Raiders were the most pass-heavy team under Allen, throwing the ball on more than two-thirds of their offensive plays. That was in part because of early deficits and also because Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew were ineffective. Oakland is averaging 3.4 yards per carry, a number that needs to improve if Sparano relies on the run as much as he wants.
The Associated Press
▪ Out: OL Khalif Barnes (quadricep), CB Keith McGill (groin)
▪ Questionable: QB Derek Carr (ankle), LB Sio Moore (ankle), FB Marcel Reece (quadricep)
▪ Out: Ryan Matthews (knee), LB Te’o Manti (foot), CB Shareece Wright (knee)
▪ Questionable: WR Malcolm Floyd (calf), T D.J. Fluker (ankle), LB Jarret Johnson (back), LB Cordarro Law (ankle), G Rich Ohmberger (back), S Darrell Stuckey (quadriceps), LB Reggie Walker (ankle)
▪ Probable: LB Jerry Attaochu (hamstring), LB Donald Butler (shoulder), LB Dwight Freeney (knee), TE David Johnson (knee, shoulder).
at N.Y. Jets
at New England
vs. Miami (London)
vs. San Diego
at San Diego
at St. Louis
at Kansas City