Raiders three-point stance: Three takeaways from the Raiders’ home loss to the Chargers

Photo credit: @TheSportsNotes

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — For the second-straight game, the Raiders failed to score a touchdown while looking inept in their 20-6 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Chargers Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in front of 54,750 fans on Sunday afternoon. At 7-2, the Chargers have now won six straight games (four straight in the series after sweeping the season-series), while the loss for Oakland (1-8), extends their losing streak to five games.

Bottom line: the Raiders are beyond a mediocre football team. They are a complete mess. The team has been outscored 75-9 in the third quarter during the five-game losing streak, and have lost by at least 14 points in all five games.

Checkout my takeaways from today’s game below.

Quotable: “This will be a year that a lot of us will never forget,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said postgame. “It’s painful. It’s really hard. It’s painful. It’s going to be hard to sleep again, hard to get up in the morning.”

Derek Carr is getting sacked way too much this year
One week after being sacked seven times by the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was sacked four times by the Chargers on Sunday. Carr did complete 24-of-37 passes for 243 yards, but faced constant pressure from the Chargers for much of the day.

Through nine games, Carr has been sacked 28 times this season, tied for third-most in the league with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.  With seven more games to go, its a safe bet that Carr will be sacked more times this season than he was in 2015 where he was sacked 31 times according to ESPN Stats and Information.

The only game where Carr wasn’t sacked this season was in Oakland’s 42-28 loss to the visiting Indianapolis Colts back in Week 8.

Even in the loss, Carr did become just the third quarterback in Raiders franchise history to throw for 17,000 yards, joining Rich Gannon (17,585) and the Hall of Famer Ken Stabler (19,078). Carr entered Sunday’s game with 16,888 passing yards now  at 17,131 yards.

Melvin Gordon is a nightmare for the Raiders
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon continues to be a thorn in the Raiders’ side and it was on full display Sunday.

Gordon finished with 23 touches for 165 yards of total offense. The former Wisconsin Badger devoured the Raiders’ 32nd rush defense, carrying the ball 18 times for 93 yards.

Gordon was also hard to contain through the air for Oakland.

On the Chargers’ first possession of the second half, Gordon took a dump-off pass from quarterback Philip Rivers, broke a tackle by cornerback Gareon Conley, juked safety Reggie Nelson and raced 66 yards for a touchdown that extended Los Angeles’ lead to 17-3 after entering halftime with a 10-3 lead.

Rivers completed 18-of-26 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Gordon finished with five catches for 72 yards and one touchdown. In the Chargers’ 26-10 victory over the Raiders in Week 5, Gordon tormented the Raiders for 120 yards of total offense (58 rushing and 62 receiving) and one touchdown.

The game was smoky
Due to wild fires from Butte County, located 150 miles north from Oakland, the air quality for the game was at unhealthy level. The Air Quality was at 159 at kickoff,  which is in the unhealthy zone, and smoke could be smelled throughout the stadium and even in the press box. The NFL had monitored the situation but the AQI never got near 200, the level where the game would have needed to be moved.

Up next for Oakland: a trip to Arizona to face the 2-7 Cardinals next week, who lost to the Raiders’ bitter rival the Kansas City Chiefs 26-14 at Arrowhead Stadium today.

The Chargers will return home for their second-straight game within the division as they will host the Denver Broncos (3-6) at StubHub Center.

Raiders to face Chargers Sunday at the Coliseum

Photo credit: @ChargersRHenne

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders will return home to the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum this Sunday as they welcome the visiting Los Angeles Chargers to town in a Week 10 battle between these AFC West rivals. The 118th matchup between these two teams will kickoff at 1:05 p.m. PT, with the Silver and Black holding a 62-53-2 edge over the Chargers all-time, but the Chargers have won the last three meetings.

The Chargers defeated the Raiders 26-10 at StubHub Center in Week 5 and are going for the sweep in the two-game season series.

Oakland is coming off a humbling 34-3 loss on the road against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9. In the game, the Raiders (1-7) scored on their first possession behind a 37-yard field goal by rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, but saw the 49ers (2-7) score 34 unanswered points. Starting quarterback Derek Carr completed 16-of-21 passes for 171 yards while posting a 99.5 passer rating.  On the season, Carr has completion rating of 72.3, which ranks second in the NFL.

Oakland’s offense registered just 242 yards against the 49ers, who sacked Carr seven times in the game.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead had a team-high six tackles (five solo and one assisted) for Oakland. Four of Whitehead’s tackles were for losses. On the season, Whitehead leads the team with 57 total tackles (42 solo and 15 assisted).

The Chargers (6-2), are off to their best start since 2006 and have won five straight games.

Last Sunday, the Chargers went into noisy CenturyLink Field and defeated the Seattle Seahawks 25-17. Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers completed 13-of-26 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against Seattle. In his 15th season, Rivers continues to put up big numbers, throwing for 2,236 yards with 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

Against the Seahawks, starting running back Melvin Gordon had plenty of running lanes to run through rushing for 113 yards on 16 carries and one touchdowns. Through the Chargers’ eight games this season, Gordon ranks sixth among all running backs in the NFL with 579 yards and seven touchdowns.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen had a big day in Seattle, hauling in six passes for 124 yards, his first 100-yard receiving day since Week 1. Despite just having just one touchdown this season (which also occurred in Week 1), Allen leads the team with 47 receptions for 630 yards.

Fellow wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams (no relation), are tied for the team-high with five touchdowns apiece.

Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will head to Arizona to face the Cardinals. The Chargers will return home to take on the Denver Broncos, their second-straight game within the division.

Raiders three-point stance: Three takeaways from Raiders’ loss to Chargers in SoCal

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

CARSON, Calif — One week after exploding for 45 points to earn their first win of the season over the visiting Cleveland Browns, the Raiders struggled to find any offensive continuity Sunday losing to the Los Angeles Chargers 26-10.

Here are my takeaways from the Raiders (1-4) loss to their AFC West rival the Chargers (3-2):

Derek Carr and the offense didn’t show up
For an offense that ranks second in the NFL in total yardage coming into Week 5 averaging 441.8 yards per game, the Chargers’ defense held Oakland to 289 yards total for the game. The Silver and Black were pedestrian on third down, converting just 4-of-11 and were just 1-of-3 in the red zone.

Carr, who threw for 437 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions last week, took a step back against Los Angeles, completing 24-of-33 passes for  268 yards one touchdown. But it was the kiss-of-death interception in the end zone that Carr threw in the third quarter with Oakland trailing 20-3 that really stung Oakland.

After Chargers safety Derwin James was called for defensive pass interference in the end zone while defending Raiders tight end Jared Cook, setting up Oakland with first-and-goal at the Chargers’ 1-yard-line, Carr didn’t see Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram drop back into the end zone and threw the ball right to him.

It was Carr’s league-leading eighth interception of the year, one of two turnovers for Oakland on the day.  Carr was also sacked three times.

Running back Marshawn Lynch, who at the age of 32 (when running backs are expected to be passed their primes) should be carrying the football 20 times a game, had just nine carries for 31 yards after his 20-carry, 130-yard rushing performance last week.

Inexcusable.

Amari Cooper is a week-to-week wide receiver
I’ve noticed a glowing pattern in Amari Cooper’s games this season that is alarming. Whenever Cooper has a tremendous game one week, the very next week he follows it up with a dud:

  • Week 1 against the Rams: 1 catch for 9 yards 3 targets.
  • Week 2 against the Broncos: 10 catches for 116 yards on 16 targets.
  • Week 3 against the Dolphins: 2 catches for 17 yards on 5 targets.
  • Week 4 against the Browns: 8 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown on 12 targets.

Can you guess what he did against the Chargers today? 1 catch for 10 yards on one target.

There’s no question that Cooper has special talent with game-changing ability, but what gives? How can anyone say that Cooper is a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL if he has the knack for missing in games?

Backup running back Jalen Richard led Oakland with six catches for

But good news for Raider Nation heading into Week 6.

Next week, Cooper should have a big day against the Seattle Seahawks when the Raiders travel to London for a “home” game.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense sliced up the Raiders’ defense
Rivers carved up the Raiders on Sunday, throwing for 339 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on 22-of-27 passing. The 15-year veteran from North Carolina State was sacked just once by Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin, but had time to find his receivers for most of the game.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen was the main beneficiary of Rivers’ passes, hauling in eight passes (on 9 targets) for 90 yards. Backup rookie running back Austin Ekeler (44-yard touchdown) and backup tight end Virgil Green (13-yard touchdown), caught both of Rivers’ touchdowns.

Rivers has now thrown 43 touchdowns against the Silver and Black, the most Rivers has thrown against one team.

Starting running back Melvin Gordon was all over the field Sunday rushing and catching the football for Los Angeles. Gordon finished with 120 all-purpose yards against Oakland (19 carries for 58 yards and one touchdown; 4 catches for 62 yards on 4 targets).

Los Angeles piled up 412 total yards offensively on Oakland and controlled the time of possession, holding onto the football for 34:40 minutes to the Raiders’ 25:20.

Linebacker Tahir Whitehead had a game-high nine tackles (6 solo) for Oakland.

Raiders head to Southern California for AFC West matchup with Chargers

Photo credit: @Raiders

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders hit the road again, their third road game in the last four weeks, when they travel to StubHub Center to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in a classic AFC West battle. Kickoff for this Week 5 matchup is set for this Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1:05 p.m. PT.

Los Angeles owns a two-game winning streak over Oakland however, the Raiders own a 62-52-1 record over the Bolts. In their previous meeting last season, the Chargers took down the Silver and Black 30-10 in Los Angeles.

The Raiders (1-3) finally got into the win column last week, defeating the visiting Cleveland Browns in thrilling fashion 45-42 in overtime. With Oakland trailing 42-34 with 1:28 left in the game and with no timeouts, Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr engineered a 6-play, 53-yard drive in 58 seconds that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown throw to tight end Jared Cook. It was Cook’s second score of the game. Carr would hit wide receiver Jordy Nelson for the 2-point conversion that would tie the game up at 42-42 heading into overtime.

On the final possession of overtime, Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 70-yard drive where he completed passes to four different receivers to setup undrafted rookie kicker Matt McCrane’s game-winning 29-yard field goal. It was Carr’s 14th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter and overtime, second-most in the NFL since Carr’s rookie season in 2014.

Carr finished the game completing 35-of-58 passes for 437 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions as the Raiders recorded 565 yards of total offense against the Browns (1-2-1), the most by any team this season.

Through four games, Carr has thrown six touchdowns and is third in the NFL in completion percentage (71.0) and fourth in passing yards (1,373), but has thrown seven interceptions, the most by any starting quarterback this season.

Against Cleveland, Oakland registered a 400-yard passer in Carr, a 100-yard rusher in running back Marshawn Lynch (who finished with 20 carries for 130 yards), and two-100 yard receivers in wide receiver Amari Cooper (8 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown) and the aforementioned Cook (8 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns). It was the first time since 1964 that the Raiders achieved that milestone.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Raiders are the first team since the 2013 Denver Broncos to achieve the same milestone in a game.

Along with Minnesota and Tampa Bay, the Raiders have recorded a 100-yard receiver in four straight weeks this season, the only teams to do so in the NFL, according to NFL metrics.

Oakland is averaging 24.2 points per game, which ranks 13th in the NFL, but the Raiders rank second in total yards (441.8) and fourth in passing yards (333) per game.

Defensively, the Raiders forced four turnovers off Browns’ rookie quarterback, Baker Mayfield who made his first career start against the Silver and Black. Mayfield fumbled twice (losing both and recovered by defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins) and intercepted twice, one being returned 36 yards for the game’s first touchdown by second-year cornerback Gareon Conley in the first quarter.

Veteran linebacker Bruce Irvin and rookie defensive tackle Maurice Hurst each recorded a sack for Oakland, who will need to apply pressure to Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers. The Raiders rank 27th in total defense, but 31st in points surrendered per game (30.8).

Now in his 15th season, Rivers is off to a hot start for the Chargers and doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Through four games, Rivers has passed for 1,156 yards with 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions while sporting a blistering 110.8 passer rating this season.

Rivers and the Chargers (2-2) picked up their second win of the season, defeating the San Francisco 49ers by a slim score of 29-27 last Sunday at StubHub Center. Rivers completed 25-of-39 passes for 250 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

In his career against the Raiders, Rivers owns a 16-8 record. Rivers has thrown for 6,055 yards, 41 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 24 games against the Silver and Black. The 41 touchdowns against Oakland are tied with the Denver Broncos for the most touchdown passes against one team for Rivers.

Running back Melvin Gordon had a productive day against San Francisco, rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries. Gordon also hauled in seven catches (tied for the game-high with wide receiver Keenan Allen) for 55 yards and one touchdown.

Gordon can do it all for the Chargers both as a runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. In fact, Gordon is tied with Allen for the team lead in catches (24) and tied with wide receiver Mike Williams for the team lead in touchdown catches with three through four games.

The fourth-year running back from Wisconsin is the team’s leading rusher with 54 carries for 276 yards and two touchdowns.

Allen leads the team with 282 receiving yards this season.

In the past, the Chargers’ defense were headlined by defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey, but rookie safety Derwin James has become a force for Los Angeles this season.

The 6’2″, 215-pound James leads the team with 20 tackles, one interception and has recorded three of the Chargers’ eight sacks this season. The Chargers have been thrilled with the Florida State product the they selected him 17th overall in April’s draft.

Following Sunday’s game, the Raiders will travel to London, England for a “home” game against the Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium in Week 6, the third straight season the Raiders will play in the United Kingdom.

The Chargers head to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Sunday, October 14 at 10:00 a.m. PT.

Raiders close out regular season against Chargers at StubHub Center

Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper (89) catches a pass against Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Graham (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

OAKLAND — The Raiders will wrap up the 2017 regular season on the road against the Chargers at the StubHub Center. Sunday’s game will also conclude the regular season series between these longtime rivals, who first met back in 1960. Los Angeles defeated the Raiders back in Week 6, 17-16, in Oakland. Raiders lead the all-time series 62-51-2.

Oakland (6-9) dropped their third straight game, losing to the now 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles 19-10 before a national televised audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Raiders’ defense played strong, holding the Eagles to just 216 yards of total offense (138 passing and 78 rushing).

The Silver and Black held the Eagles to just 1-of-14 on third downs. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the Raiders with seven tackles, while defensive linemen Denico Autry and Jihad Ward each recording a sack; it was Ward’s first career sack.

Safety Reggie Nelson was around the football the entire night, forcing two turnovers against Philadelphia in the second half. Nelson forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback TJ Carrie, and then registered an interception off Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles in the fourth quarter. For the game, Nelson finished with six tackles and three pass defensed.

Offensively, Oakland’s running game came alive behind starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 95 yards on 25 carries. Starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for 140 yards on 15-of-29 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

After missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, wide receiver Amari Cooper returned to the lineup and finished with three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. Cooper got great separation from Eagles starting cornerback Jalen Mills running a slant-and-go for a 63-yard score in the first half.

Los Angeles (8-7) enters Week 17 with a shot at making the AFC playoffs. After a slow start to the season, the Chargers have now won five of their last six games after dispatching the New York Jets, 14-7, last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Chargers can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Raiders, coupled with losses by both the Tennessee Titans (8-7) and Buffalo Bills (8-7).

Starting quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 290 yards on 22-of-40 passing with one touchdown against the Jets last week. The 14-year veteran enters the final weekend of the season ranking third in the NFL in passing yards with 4,128 and ninth in touchdown passes with 25 and only 10 interceptions.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen appears to be all the way back from the torn ACL he suffered last season, ranking fourth among wide receivers in the NFL with 1,260 receiving yards to go along with 93 catches–all career-highs for the fifth-year pro. Allen has caught five touchdowns this season.

Running back Melvin Gordon is Los Angeles’s most versatile offensive weapon. Gordon is tied for third in the NFL with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing and four receiving). The third-year pro rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown against the Jets, helping him eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

Gordon enters Sunday’s matchup against Oakland rushing for 1,012 yards on 257 carries, to go along with 52 catches for 445 yards this season.

The Chargers have one of the better defenses in the league, ranking fifth in the NFL with 41 sacks. Second-year defensive end Joey Bosa leads the team with 11.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram is close behind with 10 sacks. After finishing tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2016, Los Angeles is currently tied for third with 17 interceptions this season.

Safety Tre Boston and cornerback Casey Hayward are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece.

Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.

Oakland Raiders host Los Angeles Chargers Sunday in first of two meetings for this season

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) greets injured Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr after an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. The Ravens won 30-17. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — Looking to get back into the win column and avoid their first four-game losing streak since losing 16-straight regular season games from Nov. 24, 2013 to Nov. 16, 2014, the Raiders welcome one of their AFC West rivals in the Los Angeles Chargers for an important matchup in Week 5.

Oakland (2-3) is currently in the middle of a three-game home stand at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, having lost in Week 5 to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17 and host their most bitter rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Oct. 19 in prime-time on Thursday Night Football.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is at 1:25 p.m. PT.

With starting quarterback Derek Carr sidelined for the game with a traverse process fracture in his back, backup quarterback EJ Manuel filled in admirably for Carr completing 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in his first start for the Silver and Black. Manuel found a comfort level with wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the game, connecting with Crabtree for a 41-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.

Crabtree finished as the Raiders’ top receiver for the day, collecting six catches for 82 yards to go along with the aforementioned touchdown after missing Oakland’s 16-10 loss Week 3 loss in Denver.

Oakland’s other starting wide receiver Amari Cooper was again a no-show, recording just one catch for eight yards on two targets. The ground game was paced by running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries and his second touchdown of the year (all at home). Backup running back Jalen Richard contributed to the offense as well, rushing for 37 yards on nine carries.

The Raiders do expect Carr to start Sunday and hope to rejuvenate an offense that ranks in the middle of the league in points per game (21.6), which is good for 16th, but rank 23rd in rushing yards per game (90.6), 26th in passing yards (188.6), and 30th in total yards per game (279.2) through the first five games of the season.

Carr has thrown for 753 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions this year.

Last year through five games, Oakland ranked sixth in total offense scoring just a shade under 28 points per game.

Oakland’s offensive line, which was a pillar of strength for the team last year after only giving up 18 sacks in 16 games, have already surrendered 12 sacks this season through five games.

With the Chargers ranking third in the NFL with 17 sacks this season, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Defensive end Melvin Ingram leads the Chargers and the AFC in sacks with 7.5, while fellow defensive end Joey Bosa is not far off with 4.5 sacks.

Bosa made an immediate impact in his first pro game last year against the Raiders, sacking Carr twice en route to 10.5 sacks and being named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after missing the first four games of the season in a contract dispute.

Second-year outside linebacker Jatavis Brown has become one of the league’s surest tacklers, leading the Chargers with 46 tackles (32 solo) this season. Last year when the Chargers called San Diego home, they finished tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions.

This season, the Chargers have recorded just two picks and have been bludgeoned by opposing teams on the ground. Los Angeles ranks dead-last in stopping the run, allowing 161.2 yards rushing per game.

In Week 2, the Chargers allowed 122 yards to Jay Ajayi, 172 yards to Kareem Hunt in Week 3, and 136 yards to LeGarrette Blount in Week 4.

That should bode well for Oakland, who still has yet to have a running back crack 100 yards rushing in a game this season. Lynch leads the Raiders with 57 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while Richard is second on the team in rushing with 24 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown.

But the second-year Richard leads Oakland with 5.3 yards per carry this season, not the 10-year veteran in Lynch, who is second with 3.4 yards per carry.

Los Angeles (1-4) picked up their first win of the 2017 season, winning 27-22 against the winless New York Giants (0-5) at MetLife Stadium last Sunday. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers completed 21-of-44 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Now in his 14th season, Rivers ranks in the top-10 among all starting quarterbacks this year, pacing fifth in passing yards (1,365) and seventh in touchdown passes (9). His 266.8 passing yards per game ranks sixth among passers. Rivers has only thrown five interceptions this season and has been sacked just six times, a testament to the Chargers much improved offensive line.

The Chargers average 19.8 points per game, ranking 19th in the league, but can put up yards offensively, ranking 11th averaging 345.6 yards per game.

Running back Melvin Gordon was unstoppable running the ball and catching the ball against the Giants. Gordon carried the ball 20 times for 105 yards and led the Chargers with a game-high six catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Gordon is tied for fourth in the NFL with five total touchdowns (two rushing, three receiving) this season.

The third-year running back from Wisconsin caught the game-winning touchdown from Rivers with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter to cement the Chargers’ victory.

Rivers is 14-8 in 22 career games against the Silver and Black, throwing for 37 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His 37 touchdowns against the Raiders are the most that Rivers has thrown against any team in the NFL in his career.

Former California wide receiver Keenan Allen is the Chargers’ best wide receiver, leading the team with 28 catches for 401 yards and a touchdown.

Oakland has won the last four-straight meetings against the Chargers after sweeping both games in 2015 and 2016.

Los Angeles will host Oakland in Week 17 at the StubHub Center in Carson.

 

 

Oakland Raiders-San Diego Chargers preview: Raiders host Chargers in AFC West battle

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

AP file photo: Oakland Raiders Michael Crabtree (15) runs a pass route against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday Crabtree who scored three touchdowns is looking forward to the challenge of the San Diego Chargers next Sunday

OAKLAND, Calif — It’s been three weeks since Raider Nation has seen their team up close, and the last time the Silver & Black were at the Oakland Coliseum, their home opener, they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 35-28 in Week 2 dropping Oakland’s record to 1-1.

After playing three of their first four games on the road, Oakland (3-1), will play their next two games at home, both against AFC West opponents, first hosting the San Diego Chargers Sunday in Week 5 action at 1:25 p.m. PT.

Oakland welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 16 (Week 6).

The Raiders slipped by the Ravens, 28-27, in Baltimore last Sunday.

Quarterback Derek Carr, as cool as a cucumber, drove Oakland 66 yards in six plays, and found wide receiver Michael Crabtree tip-toeing the back of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.

The third-year quarterback from Fresno State has played more like a 10-year veteran during the first month of the season,  throwing for 1,066 yards, nine touchdowns, to just one interception.

“He is a guy that is very well-prepared,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said via CBSSports.com. “He’s really, I think, taken a step forward in terms of emotional control, the poise to be, kind of, surgeon-like and just be accurate with the ball and let his playmakers do their thing.”

Crabtree, who is off to a tremendous start to the season as well, dominated the Ravens’ second-ranked defense, scoring three touchdowns on seven catches for 88 yards.

The eight-year veteran from Texas Tech has become Carr’s big-play guy, leading the Raiders in receptions (26), touchdowns (4), and is second behind fellow wide out Amari Cooper (318) in receiving yards with 308.

Rookies are being thrust into live action for Oakland, especially as injuries begin to pile up.

The Raiders’ fifth-ranked rushing attack could be down a man Sunday, as starter Latavius Murray (toe) is not expected to play, so Oakland will rely heavily on rookie running backs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

Washington, who will likely start, is second on the team with 147 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Richard is third with 144 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.

Middle linebacker Ben Heeney and tight end Lee Smith, who were both placed on season-ending injured reserve this week, will rely on rookie middle linebacker Corey James to fill Heeney’s void.

James, who took over for Heeney during Oakland’s 17-10 road victory in Tennessee during Week 3, recorded a team-high 15 tackles (3 assisted) in Week 4.

Smith, who was key in Oakland’s ground game with his strong blocking, leaves those duties to second-year tight end Clive Walford and fourth-year tight end, Mychal Rivera

The offensive line has been dealing with some injuries at tackle with Menelik Watson and Austin Howard. Rookie Vadal Alexander stepped in against Baltimore and solidified a unit that didn’t allow a sack in the game to a Ravens team that entered Week 4 with six sacks.

San Diego (1-3) travel to Northern California as a broken down team,  blowing three leads in the fourth quarter in the team’s final five minutes of the game this season.

The Chargers blew a 13-point second half lead in a 35-34 loss to the New Orleans Saints, thanks to fumbles by wide receiver Travis Benjamin and running back Melvin Gordon.

Benjamin, who signed with San Diego in the offseason following four years in Cleveland, leads the Chargers with 21 catches for 277 and two touchdowns.

San Diego’s season has been decimated by injuries, with 14 players on injured reserve.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries have taken out top-flight wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back  Danny Woodhead on the offensive side, but that doesn’t seem to bother Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Despite all of the season-ending injuries, and with security blanket in tight end Antonio Gates dealing with a hamstring injury, Rivers has continued to put up arcade-like numbers throwing for 1,110 yards, seven touchdowns, and just one interception.

Rivers’s 104.5 passer rating ranks seventh in the league behind Carr’s 104.6, while engineering an offense that averages 30.2 points per game.

Defensively, San Diego lost star linebacker Manti Te’o (Achilles) in the third game of the season, but linebackers Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown have filled in nicely combining for 44 tackles and two sacks.

The loss of Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett for the season with a partially torn ACL really hurts San Diego’s pass defense, especially against Cooper and Crabtree.

Cornerback Casey Hayward has recorded three of the team’s six interceptions, while outside linebacker Melvin Ingram is the team leader with three sacks.

On paper, Oakland should dominate San Diego, but Rivers, who is 14-6 with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for his career against the Raiders, is the quarterback who can prevent Oakland from earning their first win at home Sunday if he gets hot.

Oakland took both meetings last year against San Diego.