After the emotional roller coaster last Sunday that was quite possibly the last Chargers’ home game in Qualcomm Stadium, the Bolts will now face off against their hated rival from the North.
While years of hatred and animosity has consumed past match ups, both the Chargers and Raiders franchises are in similar positions with blurred futures in their current homes. So as the Raiders now take the field at O.co Coliseum Thursday night, possibly for the last time, let’s make sure that if it in fact the end, they leave with a big L.
The Chargers (4-10) themselves are coming off a big win last week in dismantling the Miami Dolphins 30-14. Danny Woodhead had four total TD’s. The Oakland Raiders (6-8) are coming off a 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers at home.
When: Thursday December 24, 5:25 pm PT Christmas Eve Football!
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Line: Chargers (+5)
The Chargers still own the series lead 60-50-2 and the series has been very one-sided in recent years as the Bolts have won 19 of the last 24 games. However, this year the Raiders came out guns a blazing and ripped apart the Chargers 37-28 (Bolts scored a bunch very late in the game to make it respectable).
Philip Rivers continues his great season despite the team’s poor overall play. He completed 72% of his passes on the afternoon last week on his way to 311 yards and 3 TD’s. He has now passed for 4,000 yards on the season, this is the seventh time he has thrown for over 4k yards in a season, which is the fourth most all time. He moved up and passed Kerry Collins in career passing yards for 14th on the all time list.
Danny Woodhead had a great game on Sunday scoring three touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. He now leads the Chargers in reception yards, has 6 TD receptions and another three rushing TD’s this season.
He will also get more work now that Melvin Gordon is done for the year after sustaining a knee injury that will require surgery. The injury occurred when he was tackled awkwardly and his leg was trapped under the body of the defender. He finishes his rookie campaign rushing for 641 yards on 184 carries.
The Chargers signed Dreamius Smith this week as the third RB. He was picked up in the offseason as an undrafted free-agent but was let go in the final round of cuts before the season.
The Bolts defense has been anchored by a youth movement. Cornerback Jason Verrett has played well all season and was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but was added as a potential replacement for an injured player. He has three Int’s on the season and 10 pass breakups. The Chargers defense as a whole only gives up 237 passing yards a game.
Linebacking duo Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman have continued to play well since Perryman came back from injury and was placed in the starting roll. Te’o added 7 tackles on Sunday to bring his total to 68 on the year.
The MVP on Sunday though was OLB Melvin Ingram who added two sacks and now leads the team with 8.5 on the season. He terrorized a deteriorated O-line Dolphins unit and will look to keep the momentum going.
Like the Chargers’ defense, the Raiders’ are lead by young players on the offensive side of the ball. Second year QB Derek Carr has thrown for over 3,500 yards and 30 TD’s on the season. His favorite target is rookie wide out Amari Cooper. He passed the 1,000 yard receiving mark last week and is the first Raiders’ receiver to do that since Randy Moss in 2005. His 1,040 yards also lead all receivers this year.
In the first matchup against the Chargers, Cooper toasted the Bolts’ secondary for 133 yards on 5 catches, including a long screen pass he ran back to the house.
OLB Khalil Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks and has recorded one in four straight games. Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith leads the team with 103 tackles on the season at his middle linebacker position.
But the key player on Thursday night will be 39-year-old Charles Woodson, who announced his retirement from the NFL, after this season, earlier this week. The sure-fire Hall of Famer is second in tackles with 65 and leads the Raiders with 5 interceptions! It will be an emotional night for him as he plays his final home game in Oakland.
What We’re Watching:
The Chargers defense has been playing a lot better over the past 3 weeks, it will be interesting to see if they can keep up that level of play on the road. The last time they played, the defense was a non-factor, getting shredded by the Oakland offense. I want to see them try to play with a high level of intensity to match the Raiders emotional state and shut them down. Verrett matched up on Cooper will be a great matchup once again to follow all game long.
Raiders playing with a lot of emotion. Chargers 23 Raiders 27
Nick was born and raised in San Diego where he became a Chargers and Padres fan, attending numerous home games throughout the years with his dad. He then went on to attend college at the University of Arizona. There he earned his degree in marketing and now lives in San Francisco where he dreams of the the sunny beaches of San Diego. Bear Down.