LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (1-4) AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-3)
SERIES HISTORY: 115th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series 62-50-2 and have won the last four. The Raiders won 19-16 at Qualcomm Stadium last season as Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals and Derek Carr threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. The Raiders won the last meeting in Oakland, 34-31. The Chargers' last win was in San Diego in 2014.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Raiders actually ran the ball fairly well against Baltimore, although they would have liked more attempts. Marshawn Lynch knocked over C.J. Moseley for his second touchdown on a 3-yard run. Now here come the Chargers, ranked 32nd in the NFL, giving up 161.2 yards per game on the ground. Count on the Raiders to run Lynch and Jalen Richard early and often so Derek Carr can pick his spots rather than carry the offense as he comes off a transverse process in his back.
Defensively, the Raiders will be so cognizant of playing top-down defense they'll probably give up a ton of short passes to Philip Rivers, daring him to drive the field without making a mistake. Slowing Melvin Gordon and the running game will be a priority.
At first glance, the Chargers' running game is something to run from -- ranked No. 29 with just 78.8 yards per game. But something switched in Gordon last week and he's running with a purpose seldom seen. A pep talk from Anthony Lynn has him going, so why not point him at a defense that ranks 25th vs. the run at 124 yards per game? Lynn is the stubborn type and there are few things he wants to do more than establish the running attack.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers may have talented rookie receiver Mike Williams for the first time this year. The former Clemson star was sidelined with a herniated disc. He said he is ready, but Lynn will make the call after seeing tape of this week's practices.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Chargers RT Joe Barksdale vs. Raiders DE Khalil Mack. Mack is coming off his quietest game of the season, against Baltimore. Playing on both the right and left side, Mack had no sacks, no pressures and no tackles for loss. He quickly departed the locker room afterward and will likely be breathing fire for the Chargers. That's not good news for Barksdale, a 2011 third-round pick by the Raiders who was swept out in the Reggie McKenzie regime after the death of Al Davis because Barksdale was a power blocker on a team switching to a zone scheme.
--Raiders WR Michael Crabtree vs. Chargers CB Casey Hayward. Crabtree was back last week after missing a game with a bruised lung and had five catches for 62 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown reception by EJ Manuel. Crabtree leads the Raiders with 19 catches for 252 yards and four touchdowns even though he plays fewer snaps than Amari Cooper, the struggling receiver on the other side. Hayward, in his second year with the Chargers after five years with the Packers, had seven interceptions a year ago and is awaiting his first in 2017. If Hayward can handle Crabtree with minimal help, Derek Carr may have trouble finding a target he trusts.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
--Questionable: T Joe Barksdale (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (ankle), RB Branden Oliver (hamstring), WR Mike Williams (back)
--Out: CB Gareon Conley (shin), CB Antonio Hamilton (knee), LB Marquel Lee (ankle), RB Jamize Olawale (concussion)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Raiders LB Tyrell Adams. He is the Raiders' leading special-teams tackler with three stops, but the smallish linebacker could have a much bigger role against the Chargers. With starting middle linebacker Marquel Lee (ankle) and weakside starter and leading tackler Cory James (knee) injured, Adams could find himself on the field for the majority of the snaps.
FAST FACTS: Chargers QB Philip Rivers passed for 258 yards and three TDs, with one interception, last week. He has 300 yards in three of his past four games at Oakland. In the past three road meetings, he has 949 passing yards, eight TDs and two INTs. ... Chargers RB Melvin Gordon had 163 scrimmage yards (105 rushing) and two TD catches in Week 5. He is tied for the lead among NFL running backs with three receiving TDs. ... San Diego TE Hunter Henry had a TD catch last week and has scored in his past two vs. Oakland and in four of the past seven vs. the division. ... San Diego DE Joey Bosa had two sacks last week. He has five multi-sack games since entering the league in 2016, the most in the NFL. He has three sacks in the past two meetings. ... San Diego DE Melvin Ingram had two sacks in Week 5 and ranks second in the NFL with 7.5 sacks. He has a sack in two of the past three meetings and has 6.5 in his past five division games. ... Oakland QB Derek Carr has 11 passing TDs and four INTs in six career meetings. ... Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch ran for a TD last week. Since entering the NFL in 2007, he has 76 rushing TDs, second most in the league. ... WR Michael Crabtree led Oakland with 82 receiving yards and scored last week. He has caught a TD pass in four straight meetings. He also has five TD catches in his past four home games. ... Oakland DE Khalil Mack has four sacks in his past four games. In his past eight home games, he has seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three recoveries and a pick six. Since 2015, he leads the NFL with 30 sacks.
PREDICTION: The return of Carr should spark the home club to another close win over the Chargers.
OUR PICK: Raiders, 24-21.