In a matchup between the top QB in the land statistically and the 31st ranked passing defense something has to give. The scoreboard is the most likely victim Sunday in San Diego.
In a division being dominated by the 6-0 Denver Broncos, the loser of this matchup between the 2-4 San Diego Chargers and 2-3 Oakland Raiders will have big trouble brewing for their division crown hopes in 2015. Oakland is coming off of a bye week, after losing to those Broncos at home 10-16 in Week 5. San Diego is coming off of a tough draw in Week 6 at Green Bay, as they lost that game 20-27. San Diego’s weak start is a little misleading given their true talent level. They have lost on the road to the 6-0 Cincinnati Bengals and the 6-0 Green Bay Packers in the first six weeks. San Diego’s start is very similar to the Seattle Seahawks in that regard.
The matchup that should concern Oakland Raider fans the most in this game is quarterback Philip Rivers versus the Oakland passing defense. The Raiders are 31st in the NFL in yards allowed per game through their first five games with 299.2. Low and behold, the San Diego Chargers are 1st in the NFL in passing yards per game with 363.2. Philip Rivers performance last week on the road in a losing effort to Green Bay was especially impressive to fantasy players, as he completed 43 of 65 passes for 503 yards.
Rivers’ effort is consistent with my preseason analysis of his chances at turning in a fantastic season. One of the reasons for this conclusion was the Chargers’ offensive line. Top draft pick offensive lineman, DJ Fluker, was a standout in training camp and has instilled himself as the every day starter at right guard. Free agent signing, Orlando Franklin, had shored up the left guard position. So when you look at the fact that Rivers has been sacked 17 times already this season you are left with the question, how is he doing it?
I honestly have no idea, other than he is playing out of his mind. The offensive line has had a rash of minor injuries with starters losing time here and there, but it looks like they will finally be at full strength again against Oakland. Yards after catch is another statistic that comes to mind, and San Diego has some outliers in that department with Stevie Johnson (7.7 YAC) and Danny Woodhead (13.9 YAC). Additionally, number two wide receiver for San Diego, Malcolm Floyd, is 3rd in the NFL in average yards per reception at 19.4. Looks like Rivers is mixing in deep shots downfield with dump offs under pressure very effectively so far this season.
The Raider passing game also has a chance to be effective in this game, with the recent news that All-Pro safety, Eric Weddle, will be out for the Chargers. In addition to Weddle, Jahleel Addae hurt his back against the Packer as well. San Diego has signed Adrian Phillips off of the practice squad to fill the absence. Weddle would have been making his 87th start this week against the Raiders, so to say his absence is an oddity is an understatement. San Diego is 7th in the NFL in defending the pass in yards allowed, or at least, they were. Look for rookie Raider wide receiver, Amari Cooper, to have a big game on Sunday.
With Philip Rivers at the top of his game going against a suspect defense, and Oakland’s passing game facing a short-handed Charger defense, I love the chances of seeing a higher scoring game here. All of San Diego’s offensive troubles have been on the road, to see them at home should help in that regard. Take the Over of 46.5 in this game at 5Dimes as one of your Week 7 NFL Picks.
NFL Pick: Raiders & Chargers OVER 46.5 (-110) at 5Dimes