After an impressive road win over the Baltimore Ravens, the Oakland Raiders return home to the friendly confines of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this Sunday to open divisional play against the San Diego Chargers.
The Week 5 clash is the first of two matchups the Silver and Black will have with Philip Rivers and Co., and although the Chargers have been decimated by injury, they still pack a potent offensive punch with Rivers at the helm.
Heading into Sunday's AFC West throw down, let's take a look at three matchups that will impact the final outcome of the game.
Quarterback Derek Carr vs. Quarterback Philip Rivers
As statistically impressive as Derek Carr has been through the first quarter of 2016, Philip Rivers has matched him nearly step for step as far as the numbers are concerned.
Yes, the Raiders boast a 3-1 record, while the Chargers have sputtered out of the gates, and are currently 1-3, but Rivers' production has not been the reason for their early troubles.
"They lost arguably their best guy in Keenan Allen and their best running back, [Danny] Woodhead, yet they're averaging 30 points a game with [Philip] Rivers," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "What Philip does and what he's done over the years, the guy is ultra-competitive. He's always at or near the top in all the statistical categories for a quarterback."
As Head Coach Del Rio mentioned, the Chargers can put up points in a hurry, and if that is indeed the case Sunday, Carr and the offense will have to match their output if they wish to secure their first home win of the young 2016 season.
One thing is certain, the Raiders offense definitely has the weapons to go toe-to-toe with the Chargers, and whichever quarterback can lead their team to a better offensive output will likely come away with a win Sunday afternoon.
Defensive Tackle Stacy McGee and Defensive Tackle Justin Ellis vs. Running Back Melvin Gordon
While Gordon is averaging just over three yards per carry, he's already found the end zone six times through the Chargers' first four games, and carries nearly the entire burden of the running game on his shoulders.
After playing in 14 games in his rookie season, the second-year back is off to a good start in his sophomore campaign, and proving to be a valuable weapon, particularly in the red zone.
It's no secret, Philip Rivers will look to test the Raiders secondary through the air all game, but if the Silver and Black's defensive front can limit Gordon and make the Chargers offense one-dimensional, it would make the job all the easier.
The Silver and Black are currently allowing 134.5 rushing yards per game, and while that's a number that the group would certainly like to be lower, Gordon knows the Raiders defense will present him with some challenges Sunday afternoon.
"They have some big boys up on the line," Gordon said. "Obviously, everyone knows about Khalil Mack and the pass rushers. They're physical, man, they're physical and big and they're playing with a swagger right now."
Tackle Donald Penn vs. Defensive End Joey Bosa
It looks like the wait is over, and that Joey Bosa will finally make his NFL debut Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
After holding out through training camp, and a majority of the preseason, Bosa missed the first four games of the regular season recovering from a hamstring injury. However, the No. 3 overall pick was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, and if all goes to plan, it looks like he'll strap on the pads in a meaningful game for the first time Sunday against the Silver and Black.
Head Coach Mike McCoy said that the team would wait until the end of the week to determine whether or not Bosa would suit up, but if he's healthy, and with the team already being hobbled by injury, it would stand to reason that the rookie defensive end would get some run against the Raiders.
If Bosa does indeed take the field, left tackle Donald Penn will have his hands full containing the former Ohio State Buckeye. Simply stated, the Raiders offensive line has been stellar through the first quarter of the season, allowing just two sacks of Carr, and if the group can keep Bosa away from the starting quarterback, it would bode well for the offense as a whole.