Positional Analysis

The top two teams in the AFC West square off on Sunday at 1:15 PM PST when the Oakland Raiders face the San Diego Chargers.

On Offense

The Raider defense will look to come up big against the run this week. When the teams first met LaDainian Tomlinson torched them for 153 yards on the ground. He was helped by the ferocious pulling of rookie guard Toniu Fonoti. Last game the attacked worked so the Chargers will again attack the interior line of the Raiders and force former Bolt John Parrella to make plays. Sam Adams had one of his worst games that day and seeks revenge.

Drew Brees will look to test a battered Oakland secondary. Charles Woodson and Tory James are battling ankle injuries and Brees will look to open up the offense, choosing speedy targets Eric Parker and Reche Caldwell to do his bidding on deeper routes and working in Stephen Alexander and Josh Norman on the shorter routes. The hope is that Caldwell or Parker might be able to burst by the ailing secondary to make a big gain or two.

On Defense

The Chargers return Junior Seau and Marcellus Wiley to the field. They both missed the last meeting between these teams. This is a key game for the Charger defensive line. If they can have success pressuring Rich Gannon alone it will open up some disguised blitzes as the game progresses. The plan is to attack with the down linemen and keep the linebackers back to stop the short passing game of the Raiders.

The Raiders will counter with a more balanced attack. With Jamal Williams lost for the season, a smaller quicker Leonardo Carson will be in his place at the defensive tackle position. That will potentially mean more running room for Charlie Garner who could have a big day with so much focus on the passing game.

The Chargers secondary will also have their hands full. The more experienced tandem of Jerry Rice and Tim Brown may school Quentin Jammer. Ryan McNeil is still recovering from an injury though he will play. Alex Molden excelled in coverage last week and will need his best game again if he hopes to contain the future Hall of Fame tandem.

One thing to watch is penalties. The Raiders have hurt themselves countless times with holding penalties and false starts. Penalties lengthen the field and will make third down tough if the Raiders continue down that path.

Special Teams

The kicking game has struggled mightily for the Chargers and it prompted the release of Wade Richey and the signing of James Tuthill. Tuthill will take over kickoffs and Steve Christie remains the field goal kicker. Christie has not found a groove despite his two game winning field goals. The Raiders have lost their two most impressive returners and are struggling as well to find a groove. Sebastian Janikowski has been more reliable in recent weeks. He missed two field goals in the first meeting, but do not count on that happening again this week.

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