Raiders.com Week 7 Mailbag Questions Answered

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Earlier this week we took to social media to find out what what the fans want to know. You asked, and Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak answered as the Oakland Raiders get set to travelt to San Diego to take on the Chargers.

From Jeff S: With our second division game of the season coming up, what needs to happen to stop Philip Rivers from passing for 350 yards?

JK: Pressure, pressure, and more pressure. Did I mention pressure? San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is a traditional pocket passer. The Chargers offense is designed in such a way that Rivers gets the ball out of his hands quickly. It's very reminiscent of Denver and New England. A lot of spread, a lot of shotgun, and a lot of quick throws. That doesn't mean Rivers can't go downfield. The secondary will need to cover well to give the front seven time to get to Rivers. But the key is, did I mention pressure? Rivers threw the ball 65 times last week. There will be opportnities to get to him, but fatigue may also be a factor.

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From Alfred P**: Which player on the Chargers' offense and defense scares you the most against the Raiders?

JK: "Scare" isn't the right word. Offensively, San Diego has a trio of guys who can hurt you, Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Keenan Allen. Gates has historically been a thorn in the Raiders side. Defensively, safety Eric Weddle is listed as "out" for this game. The days of Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman are long gone so the San Diego defense uses a variety of ways to get to the quarterback. They may not be household names but they are pretty good. With Weddle out, I'd have to say the two corners are the guys who worry me the most – Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers.

From Lee C: How much freedom does Derek Carr have to change a play at the line of scrimmage if he recognizes something in the defense?

JK: I think offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has trust and confidence in his young quarterback and I'd venture to say that Carr has the ability to change a play if he doesn't like what he sees from the defense.

From Javier O: Can we expect to see Neiron Ball covering Gates one-on-one given his success against Denver's tight ends?

JK: I think you are going to see multiple players, coverages, the National Guard…in all seriousness…defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., will more than likely use multiple coverages and personnel to defend Gates and their other effective weapons.

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From Aldin M**: Are there any players that could really break out after the bye?

JK: I'd like to see running back Latavius Murray get on track. I'd also like to see tight ends Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford used more. I think a few guys could break out on offense. Defensively, Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith would be the two guys I'd look for.

From Travis S: How does playing away in San Diego compare to playing in any other away game? Does Raider Nation show up best in SD?

JK: Raider Nation does turn up in San Diego for sure. I think, in the 15 years I've been doing this, Raiders fans do show up on game day at Qualcomm more so than any other stadium I've seen. If the Raiders can get off to a fast start and take an early lead and control momentum, the stadium will turn into a "homefield" advantage for Raiders.

From Freddy L: If Derek Carr throws for 300 yards this week can we finally acknowledge that he's the best quarterback in the AFC West?

JK: I already regard him highly, but the Raiders need a win, not a 300-yard passing performance and a loss. I think you compare him with Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Alex Smith with wins and losses, quarterback rating and turnovers, not necessarily how many yards he throws for.

From Miranda O: With Justin Tuck out, is there still a chance that the Raiders get two double-digit sack players?

JK: Sure. Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith are certainly capable. With Tuck out, I'm more concerned with the line-up protection, to borrow a baseball term. Tuck draws double and triple teams and frees up other rushers. He's valuable and an inside pass rusher in nickel and dime situations. But Mack and Smith certainly have the talent and ability. Rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr will get the call in place of Tuck and he has really come on in recent weeks.

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