While another impressive victory over one of the top teams in
the AFC kept their slim chances alive, the San Diego Chargers still
need plenty of help down the stretch to secure a postseason
They’ll try to take care of what they can control when they host
the struggling Oakland Raiders, as San Diego looks to avenge an
earlier loss and win for the fourth time in five games Sunday.
Three weeks after snapping a three-game losing streak with a
41-38 victory at Kansas City, San Diego (7-7) pulled off another
big road upset with a 27-20 win over conference-leading Denver last
With three wins in four games, the Chargers remain alive for the
second and final wild-card berth in the AFC – though Miami damaged
their long-shot chances with Sunday’s victory over New England.
Even if it beats Oakland (4-10) on Sunday and Kansas City in the
regular-season finale, San Diego still could miss the playoffs for
the fourth straight year without losses from the Dolphins and
Baltimore, both 8-6.
”We can lament and kick ourselves for those losses or we can
worry about what we can control and that’s two games left in the
season,” safety Eric Weddle said. “I really don’t care what
happened the previous 14 games because they’re gone and I’m
focusing on the Raiders.”
The Chargers held the high-scoring Broncos to season lows in
points, rushing yards (18) and total yards (295). San Diego is tied
for the third-fewest points allowed in the league in December at
17.0 per game.
While hardly as prolific as the Broncos, the last-place Raiders
are coming off one of their best offensive performances of the
season. They reached a season high in points while finishing with
26 first downs and 461 total yards in a 56-31 loss to Kansas City
Making his fifth straight start, Matt McGloin completed 18 of 35
for a career-high 297 yards with two touchdowns but added a
career-worst four interceptions. He’ll need to take better care of
the ball after committing eight turnovers over the past four
Terrelle Pryor also threw an interception as the Raiders
continue to mix him in as a change-of-pace player.
”We’re getting used to it,” McGloin said. ”We do it
throughout practice and throughout the course of the week. The
coaches are doing what they feel puts us in the best position to
win, and I’m on board for that.”
Rashard Jennings ran a season-high 23 times for 91 yards and two
touchdowns, giving him four scores in his last two games. While
filling in for the injured Darren McFadden, he was held to 41 yards
on 10 carries in a 27-17 home win over the Chargers on Oct. 6.
McFadden might be able to return for this meeting after missing
the last two contests with a sprained ankle.
Oakland picked off Philip Rivers three times, forced a pair of
fumbles – one returned 25 yards for a touchdown by Charles Woodson
– and held San Diego to a season-low 36 rushing yards in the first
The Raiders, however, have been bad defensively of late,
surrendering a league-high 34.7 points per game over the past seven
weeks. They’ve given up 119.8 rushing yards a contest during their
four-game losing streak and allowed Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles to
take short passes and run untouched on three of his five scores
That was part of a 195-yard receiving day that was the best for
a running back in 14 years.
”We’ve got to do a great job of tackling in space,” coach
Dennis Allen said. “That’s an area that we’ve got to work to
improve on, because we can’t let screens behind the line of
scrimmage go for big gains like that.”
Since throwing a season high in picks against the Raiders,
Rivers have connected on 67.5 percent of his passes for an average
of 270.9 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine
Over his 10-year career, the four-time Pro Bowler has thrown for
62 scores with 17 picks while posting a league-best 28-6 record as
a starter in December.
”We always seem to make it interesting,” Rivers said. ”We’re
a .500 ball club that’s going to fight like crazy to get the next
Keenan Allen has been a key red-zone target with four touchdown
catches over his last two games. He finished with six receptions
for 115 yards and a score in the October loss to the Raiders.
Ryan Mathews will try to take advantage of Oakland’s scuffling
run defense, having totaled 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns in
his last two games.
The Chargers have won eight of 10 meetings in San Diego.