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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Bye Week

Prediction: SD 34, OAK 17

Update: Darren McFadden was held out of practice to rest his toe on Wednesday and then was limited on both Thursday and Friday and could end up as a gametime decision according to HC Lane Kiffen. He has been downgraded since last week and is now considered questionable to play. I am lowering his projections and make sure that he is playing if you are going to rely on him. Unfortunately this is a later game so you may not know in advance to make other roster moves if needed. McFadden was said to be running at 75% in practice because of the turf toe. He is a big risk to rely on this week.

The Chargers finally get a win with their Monday night blowout over the Jets while the Raiders have been surprisingly good these last couple of weeks. But the Bolts are on a roll now and swept the Raiders last year, winning 28-14 at home and later 30-17 in Oakland. No way the Chargers can take this lightly.

San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN 38-39 -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ 48-29 -9 44
4 @OAK - -7 46
5 @MIA - - -
6 NE - - -
7 @BUF - - -
8 @NO - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 KC - - -
11 @PIT - - -
12 IND - - -
13 ATL - - -
14 OAK - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 @TB - - -
17 DEN - - -
SD at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     250,3
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 70,1 10  
TE Antonio Gates   50,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   60,1  
WR Buster Davis   30  
WR Chris Chambers   80,1  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 4 XP  
Pregame Notes: It took the Jets to make it happen but the Chargers finally looked like the 2007 powerhouse version when they dismantled the Brett Favre and company on Monday night. The defense looked solid even without Merriman and LaDainian Tomlinson played through his toe injury to make a difference. The Chargers are still lagging far behind the Broncos (who beat them by one point) and a divisional game in Oakland is a must win.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers is off to a red-hot start with an NFL leading nine passing touchdowns along with 844 passing yards this season. Rivers has thrown for exactly three scores in every game so far and his best effort came on the road in Denver. He's only been sacked twice and only thrown for two interceptions during what is shaping up to be a career best year. While he has had Gates and Tomlinson in the past, Rivers has stepped the use of his wideouts to make the difference.

Rivers only passed for 156 yards in the first meeting with the Raiders because Tomlinson ran all over them. He later passed for 135 yards and two scores in the meaningless week 17 game.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson is still bothered by his toe but he ran a season high 26 times on Monday night and says he is encouraged that the toe is improving. Fortunately he scored two touchdowns because he only ran for 67 yards and a 2.6 yard average against the visiting Packers. Tomlinson owners are hardly giddy about their first round pick so far but at least Tomlinson finally scored this year. And he is not going to take any time off.

Tomlinson rushed for 198 yards and four scores against the visiting Raiders in 2007 but later only had 56 yards on 16 carries in the season finale in Oakland.

Wide Receivers: The biggest improvement in this offense - and one that happened thanks to trailing the first two weeks - is that Rivers has really focused on using his wide receivers more this year. Chris Chambers already has four scores this year and has yet to not catch a touchdown in a game. Vincent Jackson only has one score himself but has turned in over 70 yards these last two weeks and even the second-year player Buster Davis had three catches for 43 yards on Monday. This was a two man offense in the past with Tomlinson and Gates but now has four weapons that Rivers will use.

No wideout had more than 49 yards against the Raiders last year.

Tight Ends: While Antonio Gates has worked through his own toe issues and even had a bruised hip, he still has managed to prop up his fantasy value with either 60+ yards per week or at least one touchdown. Gates has yet to have more than six passes thrown to him in a game and has only topped out at four receptions.

Gates caught three passes for 58 yards at home against the Raiders last season and later turned in six receptions for 62 yards in Oakland.

Match Against the Defense: Oddly enough, the Raiders have been solid against running backs gaining yards and opposing rushers are only averaging 3.6 yards per carry. But they have allowed five rushing touchdowns this year. Do not look for Tomlinson to reprise his 198 yard effort of last year but he should have decent yardage and at least one score here to help his fantasy value. The Raiders rushing defense has done better in 2008.

The passing game is where the Chargers have excelled though and the Raiders have allowed two teams to throw for 280+ yards and at least one score. This is a divisional game and the Chargers have to make up ground so expect them to be willing to score a little extra to make it happen. Rivers has yet to throw anything but three scores in a game and that could happen again this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 2 6 8 5 3 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    OAK 25 19 26 21 10 6

Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 14-41 +3 41.5
2 @KC 23-8 +4 34.5
3 @BUF 23-24 +9.5 36.5
4 SD - +7 46
5 BYE - - -
6 @NO - - -
7 NYJ - - -
8 @BAL - - -
9 ATL - - -
10 CAR - - -
11 @MIA - - -
12 @DEN - - -
13 KC - - -
14 @SD - - -
15 NE - - -
16 HOU - - -
17 @TB - - -
OAK vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB JaMarcus Russell     150,1
RB Darren McFadden 30 10  
RB Michael Bush 70,1    
TE Zach Miller   20,1  
WR Javon Walker   50  
WR Ronald Curry   30  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   30  
PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: HC Lane Kiffen may be on the death watch but the Raiders as a team have been playing much better ball. After easily winning in Kansas City, they almost took home a win from Buffalo. One point away from consecutive road wins? And they want to fire the coach? The expectations now is that the Raiders (AKA Big Al) will wait until the bye in week five to fire Kiffen so that maybe no one notices.

Quarterback: First-year starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell is hardly setting any team records yet but after his first three games he's been reasonably good. He has thrown for three touchdowns and has yet to toss an interception. He's never thrown for more than 180 yards this season though he passed for 224 yards and one score against the Chargers last year in his only start as a rookie. He has not lit the passing game on fire but then again, he hasn't made game killing mistakes either.

Running Backs: Darren McFadden has turf toe but played last week in Buffalo and only gained 42 yards on 14 carries. HC Lane Kiffen says that McFadden will continue to play and that the toe is improving. Justin Fargas remains out and Michael Bush has filled in but even he only managed 55 yards on 14 carries against the Bills. This is an offense predicated on the run and there has yet to be less than 27 carries to distribute.

The Raiders only totaled 52 rushing yards on 20 carries in San Diego last year.

Wide Receivers: The entirety of Russell's passing success can be rolled up in just one catch by Johnnie Lee Higgins last week when he broke free for an 84 yard touchdown in his only catch of the season. Ronald Curry hasn't actually caught a pass since week one and Javon Walker's return only sparked two receptions for 18 yards. There is not much passing here and even when there is most passes are incompletions.

On the plus side, Russell's best game did come at home and the rushing game will not be enough to win this week. These wideouts are going to have to step up if the Raiders expect to have a chance.

Tight Ends: Unfortunately Zach Miller has been decreasing each week and comes off his first game without a reception. His previous home game had four catches for 34 yards.

Miller caught eight passes for 84 yards and a score in the game against the Chargers last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Chargers rushing defense has been decent this year mainly because teams have had good success passing against them and that is unlikely here. Expect only moderate rushing numbers here with a shot at one touchdown. McFadden is still not 100% and Bush will be sharing carries anyway.

Russell faces his biggest need to throw since week one but his best bet is if this game has a lot of trash time - which is possible. But expecting more than one passing score is optimistic and while a wideout should be the one to catch it, it could go anywhere.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 23 11 23 29 13 18
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 32 9 30 32 23 17
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