The Chargers’ 26-11 home rout of Green Bay on Sunday wasn’t close. The Packers’ only touchdown came with just over six minutes left, after Los Angeles led 26-3.
The question now becomes whether this is the start of another second-half surge by a franchise known for them, or simply a blip in another underachieving season this franchise produces like few others. The trip to Oakland for an AFC West clash with the Raiders could provide a large clue.
At 4-5, Los Angeles is two games behind division-leading Kansas City with seven contests left, including two against the Chiefs. But first the Chargers will oppose Oakland (4-4), which has surpassed very low expectations behind the play of rookie running back Josh Jacobs and a strong offensive line.
Line under attack
If Sunday is any indication, the Raiders’ line might want to buckle up. The Chargers handcuffed Green Bay with dominant play from the front seven, unleashing pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers all day.
Los Angeles occasionally lined Bosa and Ingram side by side, and the Packers’ line looked way out over their skis trying to block them. The duo combined for three sacks and six hurries, helping limit Rodgers to just 161 passing yards on 23-of-35 accuracy.
“We expect to play like that,” Ingram said. “It’s not a surprise — it’s what we expect to do. We work day in and day out and know what type of players we have on this team, so we expect to play like that.”
A repeat performance on short rest and a short trip to the Bay Area might be a tough ask, particularly against one of the league’s most improved teams. Little was expected from Oakland after it went 4-12 last year and entered the season with one of the NFL’s least-heralded rosters.
But with Jacobs pounding away for 740 rushing yards in his first eight games (tops among NFL rookies) and quarterback Derek Carr enjoying a bounce-back from a moribund 2018, the Raiders have equaled last year’s win total at this season’s midpoint. And with their young players gaining confidence by the day, they are a tough out for anyone on the schedule.
“There’s a great belief because when you think about this team, we only won four games last year,” defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said after Oakland’s 31-24 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. “And at the halfway mark this year, we’re 4-4.
“When you look at the games we lost, they were all close games, except for Green Bay. By winning, for the morale of the team, it just helps us build that confidence that we really can win any given Sunday.”
This is the second game of three straight at home for Oakland. With winless Cincinnati coming to town in Week 11, a victory Thursday could put the Raiders in serious contention for an AFC playoff spot before they move to Las Vegas in 2020.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)