Raiders begin Sparano era with San Diego coming to Oakland

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

ALAMEDA — Coming off a much needed bye where Oakland fired head coach Dennis Allen and named offensive line coach Tony Sparano interim head coach,  the Oakland Raiders look to get into the win column as they will host the San Diego Chargers Sunday at Coliseum. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PDT.

Oakland, (0-4), has been dreadful offensively through the first quarter of the season, ranking last in points scored per game (12.8), total yards per game (270), and rushing yards per game (61.5). Opponents have outscored the Raiders 103-51.

Quarterback Derek Carr, who suffered a sprained ankle and MCL during Oakland’s brutal loss to Miami 38-14 in London, should be a go on Sunday after the week off.

Carr is slowly developing into a quarterback in the NFL, completing 84-of-133 passes for 734 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in his four starts this season. The Raiders signal caller maybe in for a tough day as he is set to face a stingy Chargers defense that ranks third in the NFL in total defense.

Running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden have been virtually non-existent this season. MJD and McFadden need to find a way to take some of the pressure off Carr and run the ball better than their 1.1 and 3.3 yards per carry average (respectively) have shown.

Defensively, the Raiders will be in trouble Sunday.

Oakland has just four sacks this season, one from the defensive line. Strong safety Tyvon Branch, who leads the team with 30 tackles, is done for the season after three games with a fractured foot.

The team just placed linebacker Nick Roach on season-ending injured reserve due to lingering concussion symptoms.Roach suffered a concussion against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 22 during the exhibition season.

It would be nice to see Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver get more pressure out of defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Antonio Smith, and linebacker LaMarr Woodley. These were the guys (along with cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers), that were suppose to add some much needed punch to a pedestrian defense.

San Diego has been red hot, winners of four straight and sit atop the AFC West at 4-1; a big reason for the Chargers great start has been because of the play quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers is off to one of his best starts in his 11 years in the NFL, ranking near the top of the list among the game’s best quarterbacks in passing yards (1,443), touchdown-to-interception ratio (12/2), and passer rating (116.3).

Players to Watch:

Oakland – QB Derek Carr. It will be interesting to see how Carr will perform Sunday coming off the injury he sustained before the bye week. Carr will be working in another wide receiver to the mix, after the Raiders claimed former New England Patriots WR, Kenbrell Thompkins Monday.

San Diego – QB Philip Rivers. No question that Rivers has reestablish himself as a premier quarterback. Rivers is coming off back-to-back three touchdown passing performances and will be looking for his favorite target, TE Antonio Gates down the middle of the field where Oakland has been vulnerable all season.


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