Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs. Raiders III

Our experts, Mike Lombardo of SD Bolt Report and Denis Savage of Silver & Black Illustrated, break down Sunday's game between the Chargers and Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. We'll finish this three-part series with some match-ups to watch, game scenarios and final predictions.

Raiders offensive matchup to watch:

The Raiders offensive line, vilified for their work last season, is playing up to its talent level. Tom Cable has instituted a plan and the line has executed. They will be challenged this week and must curtail nose tackle Jamal Williams and create running lanes up the middle and work the outside. Without a running game, the Chargers will pin their ears back and make a less than mobile Daunte Culpepper vulnerable.

Raiders defensive matchup to watch:

Mike Huff covering Antonio Gates - or trying to. Huff will likely draw the assignment against the talented tight end and must limit the big seam routes that eat up yards. Gates will certainly snare his passes but they have to be of the short variety. Huff can't be lulled by Gates' smooth routes and effortless stride. He must be ready for the big play and come up big when that happens.

Chargers offensive matchup to watch:

Craig Davis has been a disappointment. After lighting up training camp with highlight-reel catches, he has been limited to seven catches, 54 yards and one score. He didn't catch a pass last week, the second time that has happened in five games. Philip Rivers needs Davis to deliver when the Raiders overload against LaDainian Tomlinson and Gates.

Davis' best asset is his speed, but Stanford Routt has the quicks to run with him stride for stride. The rookie receiver out of LSU will have to rely on crisp routes and tight technique to beat Routt on outs and comebacks. If he succeeds, it may draw in the defense and open things up downfield. If he fails, the passing game could sputter.

Chargers defensive matchup to watch:

This hasn't been the season Drayton Florence envisioned. The San Diego secondary is giving up more than 247 yards per game and allowing quarterbacks to complete 64% of their passes. Florence has been targeted 30 times and has the league's worst burn ratio at 83.3%. He's allowed 381 receiving yards already, second highest amongst cornerbacks who've seen at least 25 pass attempts.

Florence will be going against Ronald Curry, a sixth-year pro on pace for 892 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Curry is averaging 13.9 yards per reception and will test Florence's discipline with double moves and crossing patterns. This matchup could be the difference between a shootout and a blowout.

The Raiders will win if...they take chances downfield. The running game had a banner week last time out, but they face a stout front seven in San Diego and must stretch the field with Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter. They have the speed on the outside and Daunte Culpepper, harnessed thus far, has to be freed of his binds. Big plays seem possible against the San Diego defense and they can't risk playing ball control and seeing San Diego take over the game early.

The Raiders will lose if...they can't stop Tomlinson. It seems cliché but it remains the truth. The defense has not played up to the standards of last season and will need the bodies in the middle to penetrate into the backfield. They have talented linebackers who can then plug the holes. Tomlinson will get his yards, but the big gains that get the crowd roaring have to be kept to a whisper.

The Chargers will win if…they get consistent pressure on Culpepper. The 260-lb. quarterback lacks the mobility that was once his trademark. If the Chargers make him uncomfortable in the pocket, he will make poor decisions and put undue pressure on the running game. If Culpepper has time to throw, he will shred the San Diego secondary with underneath routes and pick his spots for big plays downfield.

The Chargers will lose if…they lose the turnover battle. This figures to be a tight game between teams with solid defenses and impressive running games. Neither team can afford to sacrifice possessions; the squad that squanders the most will likely lose.

Savage's Prediction: The Raiders are a better team than their record indicated last season and are on the cusp of being a good team. They are not there yet. Even Norv Turner can't foul this up.

Chargers 30, Raiders 17

Lombardo's Prediction: The Chargers have lost two of their last three games at Qualcomm Stadium and were showered by chants of, "Marty! Marty!" last time they left the field. The players are to determined to prevent that ugly scene from happening again.

Chargers 31, Raiders 20

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