Oakland Raiders vs. Chargers Preview: Keys to the Game

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Dec 20, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (39) is tackled by Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (52) during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

3. Don’t Let Danny Woodhead Beat You

The Chargers have been an absolute train wreck on the injury front this season, and that continues this week as the Chargers go into the game with their leading receiver – Keenan Allen – on IR and one of their top two wideouts – Stevie Johnson – listed as questionable, along with tight end Ladarius Green. Johnson and Green – the 4th and 5th leading receivers on the team, respectively – have combined for 80 receptions, 899 yards and 7 TD’s on the year.

Danny Woodhead, despite not being a starter at any point this year, is now the team’s active receiving leader with 64 catches for 651 yards and 6 TD’s. With just three more receptions and 74 more yards, he will catch Keenan Allen as the Chargers’ leading receiver for 2015, and he already has the most receiving touchdowns on the year. As a running back.

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  • Last week the Dolphins let Danny Woodhead beat them. Woodhead, all 5’9″ and probably 190 pounds of him, caught six passes for 50 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Chargers collected their fourth win of the year. Woodhead is not a threat in the run game – he’s only once had more than eight carries in a game, and  is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry  – but what he can do in the passing game can be devastating. With Rivers down three of his top five weapons, he will have to rely on Woodhead in the passing game even more heavily.

    The Raiders will need to treat Woodhead like a real receiver and not just let him leak out into the flat or run routes against the weakest cover player on the team, and put someone on him who can cover him. It might be advisable to let TJ Carrie – who will very likely be starting at safety this week – play down close to the line and shadow him rather than letting the elusive Woodhead matchup with a linebacker like Ben Heeney. If the Raiders insist on covering Woodhead with a linebacker, Malcolm Smith would seem to be the best matchup. A zone scheme that emphasizes the flats – like a traditional cover 2 – could also be useful against the dangerous backfield receiver.