We continue our examination of the San Diego Chargers opponents for the 2014 regular season.
Sixth up: Oakland Raiders
When: The Chargers travel to the Black Hole to face the Raiders on Oct. 12. San Diego will play host to Oakland on Nov. 16.
Last season: The Raiders scuffled through a 4-12 campaign in 2013. Oakland is tied for the second-longest postseason drought in the NFL, last appearing in the playoffs after the 2002 season.
All-time series vs. Chargers: Oakland holds a 58-47-2 advantage over San Diego in the all-time series.
Last meeting vs. Chargers: The Chargers defeated Oakland at Qualcomm Stadium, 26-13 on Dec. 22.
Super Bowl odds: 150-1
Key offseason additions: Flush with salary cap space, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie brought in several veteran players during free agency on both sides of the ball that he hopes will make his team more competitive, including running back Maurice Jones-Drew , quarterback Matt Schaub, receiver James Jones, offensive tackle Donald Penn, offensive guard Austin Howard and defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith and LaMarr Woodley. Oakland continued to add pieces on the defensive side of the ball in the draft with first-round selection Khalil Mack and defensive tackle Justin Ellis.
Key offseason losses: Left tackle Jared Veldheer signed with Arizona Cardinals and defensive end Lamarr Houston joined the Chicago Bears in free agency. Running back Rashad Jennings (Giants), defensive tackle Vance Walker (Chiefs) and WR/KR Jacoby Ford (Jets) also inked deals with new teams during the free agency period.
The skinny: Raiders coach Dennis Allen needs Schaub to return to his Pro Bowl ways after last year’s disastrous season. And in order to help Schaub , the Raiders will rely on running backs Darren McFadden and Jones-Drew to push the offense with a strong running game. However, McFadden has struggled to stay healthy in the NFL, and Jones-Drew is getting long in the tooth at 29 years old.
If Schaub struggles early and the Raiders get off to a slow start, expect to see second-round selection Derek Carr sooner rather than later.
Defensively, the Raiders should be much improved up front with the addition of Smith, Woodley, Tuck and Mack, along with bringing back nose tackle Pat Sims in free agency. But some aging veterans playing significant time, can the Raiders stay healthy for the duration of the season? And can Oakland score enough points on offense to stay in games so they have a chance to win in the fourth quarter?
The Raiders will be a more competitive team in 2014, but they still have more questions than answers.