This game is a big game for the Oakland Raiders after last week’s debacle in Kansas City. The Chargers looked like a threat until the last few week’s when the Chargers have gone on a losing streak that has knocked them out of contention.
Oakland Raiders- Derek Carr ended any hopes he had for a run at NFL MVP last week against the Chiefs. The biggest question for the Raiders is the health of Carr’s pinky? Carr did not look the same last week; it could have also been due to the loss of left guard Keleche Osemele, who was a major missing cog at Kansas City when he was a late scratch due to kidney stones. Either way, the Raiders need to get a win here badly if they hope to win the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers- QB Phillip Rivers threw three interceptions in a Week 14 loss to Carolina, and his 17 interceptions lead the NFL this year. He has been picked off ten times in his last four games, the most in any four-game span in his career. The Chargers playing well is largely dependant on how Rivers plays. That will be even truer now that they are missing their top two running backs, Danny Woodhead and Melvin Gordon.
Keys to the game
Chargers OTs King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale vs. Raiders DE Khalil Mack. Mack is playing as well as any player in the NFL and that could result in him being named AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He has had sacks in eight consecutive games and. The Raiders will move him from one side to the other and Rivers will have to account for him at all times., meaning Dunlap on the left and Barksdale on the right will both be tested, as well as chip blocking from fullback Derek Watt and tight end Sean McGrath.
The Raiders secondary against the Chargers wide receivers- Chargers QB Philip Rivers has passed for 1,478 yards and 12 TDs, with four interceptions, in the last five meetings against the Raiders. With what should be a lack of a running game for the Chargers, the Raiders will have to keep Rivers under control.
If QB Derek Carr’s pinky is ok, this game should be a done deal, but I don’t think it is. I think Rivers plays well enough to keep the Chargers in the game. In the end, the Raiders being a more balanced team will lead them to victory. Plus there is no way the Chargers can block Mack. Raiders 31 Chargers 27.