Struggling Chargers and Raiders Face Off Tonight


Thursday night football premiers this week, and our first game is an AFC West battle between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.  Although they are tied for first place in the West, all the teams in that division are struggling, as the Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs are tied at 4-4 and the Denver Broncos are just a game back at 3-5.

In a division where everyone is in the race, the head-to-head matchups are even more important, making Thursday’s game critical.  And with 7 teams in the conference with 5 or 6 wins, it’slikely that only the division winner will emerge from the West for the playoffs.

Coming off the short week, the Raiders are looking to bounce back from at 38-24 defeat to Denver.  The Raiders gave up 299 rushing yards to the Broncos, making Tim Tebow’s life a lot easier (although, to be fair, Tebow accounted for 118 of those rushing yards).  The Raiders now have the 29th ranked rushing defense in the league, giving up 139 yards per game, and the 20th ranked passing defense.  At the beginning of the season, the Raiders defense looked strong, but they seem to have regressed in the last few games.

As tough as the two straight losses have been to the Raiders, the Chargers are coming off a much tougher three-game losing streak.

Last week, the Chargers lost a shootout 45-38 to the Green Bay Packers in which QB Philip Rivers accounted for 6 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, while he had 4 TD passes to his team, he threw 2 interceptions which were returned for TDs by the Packers, both in a 3 minute span in the first quarter.

And this was coming off their overtime loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago, in which Rivers fumbled the snap that prevented the Chargers from hitting the game winning field goal at the end of regulation.  And now they have a short week to get ready for the division rival Raiders.

“With games coming as fast as they’ve been coming, you don’t have any choice but to forget about it, put it in the memory bank and move on,” linebacker Takeo Spikes said.

Quentin Jammer added, “Four and four, we’ve been here before. We’ll continue to fight and we’ll see where we’re at after it’s all said and done.”

But you look for positive signs wherever you can find them.  San Diego scored three touchdowns in the final 17 minutes against the Packers on Sunday, and got close on two other drives, plus the 38 points they scored was the most in 20 games.

“I think it was a large confidence-builder with Philip, myself, and our entire offense to come down and put together (drives) like that and finally get some touchdowns on the board without field goals,” said wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who caught 7 passes for 141 yards and 3 TDs in the Packers game.

Rivers is still a first-tier quarterback, if he can get the turnovers under control.  Carson Palmer is improving with the Raiders offense, but still seems to be getting comfortable with the Raiders, and he has thrown 6 interception is six quarters of play so far.  Ultimately, we think Rivers gets it done this week, giving the Chargers a leg up in the AFC West.

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