Tonight the San Diego Chargers will be in the O County Coliseum to face the much-improved Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are a team the Chargers can beat. Unfortunately for San Diego, the same can be said about Oakland.
Both teams are out of the playoff picture, so all they’re playing for is their pride and the rivalry. Forget they’re in the same division; they aren’t in the playoff hunt. This is a game just for the teams and their fans and if you know anything about NFL rivalries, this is one of the hottest in the league. Stub Hub says there are 711 tickets still available, if you want to sit in on the action.
Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the Chargers. He has passed for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns this season — makes you wonder why their record is only 4-10. In his 12-year career he has over 40,000 yards passing and 278 touchdown passes. Makes you wonder why the Chargers never went to the Super Bowl with Rivers as their quarterback.
This is what has plagued San Diego for the entire time Philip Rivers has been their starting QB: they have never fulfilled the potential that everyone around the league saw in them, year after year. Marty Schottenheimer lost his job as the Chargers’ head coach because they couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs, when the entire league thought San Diego would win it all.
Norv Turner spent the most time with Philip Rivers as his quarterback and while head coach Turner’s team put up a 56-40 record … and found his team losing in the first round of the playoffs — again and again.
Now they have Mike McCoy who, despite this dismal season, has a record of 22-24. He had a winning record going into this season, which is why the Spanos Family will most likely give him one more year to turn things around and get the team not only into the playoffs, but at least into the AFC Championship game.
The big thing with the Chargers this year: injuries. They lost their best receiver, Keenan Allen, early in the season and their offensive line has had enough new faces to start it’s own offense. They will also be without their rookie running back, Melvin Gordon, who will miss these final two games due to a knee injury. No worries though, Donald Brown had 90 years running against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
So, McCoy will probably get another year to fix this mess. Of course they may be doing that from Carson, just a couple hours north of Qualcomm Stadium. Everyone is on pins and needles waiting to hear the official announcement on whether the Chargers will stay in San Diego or move to L.A.
The Oakland Raiders fans are doing the same thing: waiting to hear if their team will stay or go — to Carson and share a stadium with their biggest rivals. Oh, the humanity.
One of the most heated rivalries in the NFL sharing a stadium. It’s like Superman and Lex Luthor being roommates.
For Oakland, they are a young team that has come back from the bottom of the AFC West, barely winning two or three games a season, to winning six. If they go home the winners tonight the Raiders have a chance to end the season at 500.
Their young quarterback, Derek Carr, became a starter in his rookie season. He’s been learning ever since. The game is faster than college and the defensive lineman are far better than what he faced in college. That was a painful lesson to learn.
He’s thrown for 3,589 yards and 30 touchdowns in this, his second season. He doesn’t have the career stats of Rivers, but analysts think that if he plays 12 years in the NFL he will.
The Chargers have a decent defense, with Manti Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Donald Butler, Denzel Perryman, Corey Liuget and in the outfield Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle. They will make the game very tough for Carr and his offense.
Carr has Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, plus tight ends Mychel Rivera and Clive Walford to catch passes, plus they running back, Latavius Murray. If he gets on track the Chargers will have a long day.
The Raiders have a good defense too. Rivers and his offense will need to deal with Khalil Mack, Leon Orr and Charles Woodson, among others, if they want to score points. This is a defense that held the Green Bay Packers to just two touchdowns last week. The Packers’ third TD was an interception by Damarious Randall. So they can handle the Chargers offense.
This biggest improvement for the Raiders this season: the hiring of Jack Del Rio as head coach. He has changed the attitude of the team. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders are contenders next season.
It’s almost time for the kickoff. Below we have Claudia Gestro’s video report from the Raiders game against the Packers. Enjoy the video and the game.
All photos by Claudia Gestro, who contributed to this article.
Top photo is Philip Rivers of the Chargers and Derek Carr of the Raiders.
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