The Los Angeles Chargers did not start off 2019 on the hottest of notes. However, two straight wins have them on a much better track. Suddenly, the playoffs are back in the picture.
That being said, at 4-5, Los Angeles can’t afford a loss right now. Another loss makes those playoff hopes even thinner. Especially considering they play the Oakland Raiders in Week 10. Oakland is 4-4 and just above the Chargers in the AFC West standings.
A win twists a lot of things into positives though. Los Angeles will be on a three-game winning streak and suddenly back up into second place in the division. So how do they do it? How do they pull off a win in Week 10 in a Thursday Night Football matchup against Oakland?
Here are four reasons the Chargers will beat the Raiders in Week 10.
Since Melvin Gordon ended his holdout, things weren’t going all that great for the running back. That translated to the Chargers too. They lost the first three games since his return.
However, they won in Week 8 to end that streak. Then, the big change happened. The Chargers won again in Week 9. This time though, it was against an elite opponent in the Green Bay Packers (now 7-2). And the best part was, Gordon was a major contributor.
Since returning, Gordon had not had a game with one yards per carry over 3.0 in the first three contests. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry and scored his first touchdown in Week 8 though. Then in Week 9 he averaged 4.0 yards per carry and scored two more touchdowns. Not only were both of those season-highs, but so were his carries (20) and yards (80).
It appears Gordon is returning to form. Once that happens, the Chargers have an elite game-changer that turns the offense into a well-oiled machine.
It also spells out bad luck for the Raiders.
Nick Bosa has been stealing headlines lately with how great he’s been in his rookie year. Somehow, it’s making his brother sneak under the radar slightly. That’s absurd, as he’s been absolutely dominant all year long.
Bosa has 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and six tackles for loss. And a lot of that damage has come recently.
Bosa’s last three games look like this. Two sacks, two sacks, and 1.5 sacks. That looks like someone that’s on a tear right now.
It also looks like someone that a team absolutely would not want to cross paths with. Sadly for the Raiders, that’s exactly what they are doing in Week 10.
Oakland has only given up just nine sacks all year. That is the second-fewest in the NFL (Pittsburgh Steelers have allowed eight). Bosa is the type of player that can change that though.
The Chargers are riding high with momentum right now. Gordon is back, Hunter Henry is back and the team is on a two-game winning streak. That last win was against the Packers too, one of the best teams in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Raiders feel like they have been searching for an identity all year long. They have almost just swapped wins and losses all year. They won, then lost two, then won two, then lost two and have now won one.
Oakland has come out completely flat one week, then looked to be firing on all cylinders the next. All that just to look miserable the following week.
Due to that, it’s really hard to pinpoint who the Raiders are this year. And that makes it hard to count on them for wins. While the Chargers actually have a worse record, they’re the team that is on a clear path at the moment. That path is winning.
Los Angeles has a star-studded passing game. Quarterback Philip Rivers has Gordon back, obviously. The running back makes things a lot easier in the passing game as a great receiver. He isn’t the only one though.
Austin Ekeler is also fantastic as a receiving weapon out of the backfield. He proved he can be the star of an offense while Gordon was holding out.
Now that he’s the backup, his role has diminished. That being said, that might make Ekeler even more dangerous as he’ll be fresh whenever he steps onto the field.
Then there’s Keenan Allen. Arguably the best route runner in the game. Allen consistently puts up monster numbers, yet tends to get overlooked when talking about the best receivers in the game. He’s a great target anywhere on the field.
Meanwhile, Mike Williams is a superb deep threat and really helps to spread the field for Los Angeles.
Finally, the return of Henry at tight end has changed everything. He’s shown potential as an elite receiving weapon for a few years and is showing it all in 2019. His last few weeks have been superb.
There really are too many weapons for Los Angeles. Literally to the point that Ekeler does not get the playing time he should be getting.
That will cause problems for any defense, let alone an Oakland defense giving up an NFL-worst 297.5 passing yards per game.