Raiders-Chargers Preview

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

berth.

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

Thursday.

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

on Sunday.

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

games.

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

matchup.

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

last week.

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

games.

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

two.”

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.