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The Oakland Raiders are a team that is rebuilding and after getting demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs, you have to wonder how much the Raiders have left in them. Meanwhile the San Diego Chargers are making a run to the NFL post season as they recently upset the Denver Broncos on the road and are looking to win out by beating the Raiders and the Chiefs to make it into the post season. Read More here
Check back all week as this thread will be updated on a regular basis with information on this game and a free pick by gameday!
The defense allowed Jamaal Charles repeatedly to take short passes and run untouched down the field for scores. The offense kept giving the ball away no matter who played quarterback. Even the special teams had its share of miscues.
It all added up to a 56-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday that might not have been the most lopsided of the season for the Oakland Raiders but was possibly the most distressing.
With every facet of the team struggling in a fourth straight loss, it's making it tougher to make the case that the Raiders (4-10) are making progress in year two under coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie.
"We're not in the blame game. We're not in the pointing fingers game. That's for everybody else to do," Allen said Monday. "Our job is to come together as a group, coaches and players. We're in the solution business, not in the creating problem business. And that's what we've got to go work to do."
The biggest problems of late have been on a defense that was the strength of this team the first half of the season. The Raiders allowed the most points in franchise history to the Chiefs with much of the damage coming on short passes that turned into big gains.
Charles scored on three screen passes that covered 49, 39 and 16 yards to go along with a 71-yard score on a downfield pass. That was part of a 195-yard receiving day that was the best for a running back in 14 years.
In all, Alex Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 287 yards but 223 of those yards came after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus, as the Raiders were never in position to make plays.
"We've got to recognize that those things are coming," Allen said. "We've got to do a great job of tackling in space. 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."
That has become a disturbing trend in recent weeks as the Raiders have been picked apart by Nick Foles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Alex Smith while allowing a league-high 34.7 points per game the past seven weeks.
"It's very concerning and it's frustrating because at times we've played really good defense," Allen said. "We've played outstanding defense at times this year."
While the offense scored a season-high 31 points, the play wasn't much better than the defense with Matt McGloin throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble and Terrelle Pryor also throwing an interception.
McGloin started and played 65 snaps, while Pryor got in for 15 in a seemingly haphazard rotation aimed at catching the defense off-guard. On one drive, the Raiders went from McGloin to Pryor and back to McGloin. It paid off in a touchdown but the offense found little rhythm for most of the game.
McGloin won the job by playing mostly mistake free in his first start against Houston but has been careless with the ball of late with seven interceptions and one lost fumble the past four games.
He has done well at avoiding sacks, taking just five in five starts with only Peyton Manning getting sacked fewer times per dropback. He also leads the NFL with 15 pass plays of at least 25 yards since becoming the starter, which is a big reason why he will start again this week despite the turnovers.
"Matt's our starting quarterback," Allen said. "I think he's earned that right and he's gone in and played well. He didn't play well (Sunday). He made some mistakes. ... It's tough to learn from those rookie mistakes and those young mistakes."
Even the special teams got into the problems, allowing a 50-yard kickoff return to open the game and then having Taiwan Jones lose a fumble on a kickoff return with Oakland trailing 42-31 late in the third quarter.
While Philip Rivers has strung together a phenomenal season through the air, and continues to do so, the Bolts ground attack has come into its own recently. Against the Broncos, San Diego posted a season-high 177-yard effort on the ground, the most allowed by Denver all season. Leading the way was Ryan Mathews, whose big day brought his season total to 1,012 yards rushing , which ranks ninth in the league. Through the air Keenan Allen has recorded four touchdowns on his last five catches while tight end Antonio Gates paces the club with 70 receptions.
- On Offense for the Raiders
Since taking over as starting quarterback in Week 11, Matt McGloin has elevated the Raiders into one of the premier teams in the league in terms of downfield passing. Since Week 11, McGloin has completed 15 passes of 25-or-more yards which is more than any other quarterback in the league. He also leads the league in completions of 20-or-more yards with 25. Meanwhile, running back Rashad Jennings has had a career-year, surpassing his career-high for rushing yards with 679 as well as total yards with 936.
- On Defense for the Chargers
The Chargers also beat the Broncos by playing suffocating defense. John Pagano’s unit held Denver to a season-low 295 yards of total offense, including a season-low 18 yards on the ground. The Broncos’ total yardage was 102 yards fewer than their second-lowest output of the season, which also came against the Bolts. The Chargers allowed the NFL’s number-one third down offense coming into the game to convert just two of nine third down opportunities. And five days after intercepting two passes and breaking up 11 against the Giants, the Chargers turned in another big effort against Peyton Manning and the Broncos with an interception and six passes defended. For the second straight game, Shareece Wright led the team in passes defensed with two and in the last two games combined, Wright has an interception, the first of his career, and five passes defensed.
- On Defense for the Raiders
The Oakland defense specializes in stuffing the run, ranking ninth in the NFL and fifth in the AFC by allowing just 103.9 yards per game. They also have been proficient sacking the quarterback, coming into the game with 34 after recording just 25 a year ago. Nick Roach leads the way with 5.5 while Lamarr Houston has 5.0. Furthermore, Oakland has had quite a deal of success forcing three-and-outs, ranking third in the NFL with 46, just three shy of the league leading Baltimore Ravens who have 39.
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.
It looks like the Raiders will have running back Darren McFadden (knee, ankle) back in the lineup, but running back Jeremy Stewart (ankle, knee) remains out. Linebacker Miles Burris (ankle) and defensive tackle Vance Walker (concussion) are both questionable.
Chargers running back Le’Ron McClain (hamstring) and wide receiver Eddie Royal (toe) are also questionable.
To reach the playoffs San Diego needs to win out and hope both Miami and Baltimore each lose its final two games meaning the Chargers three-year postseason drought will more than likely continue.
One of the main reasons they are in such a precarious position was the 27-17 loss suffered in Oakland back in October when the Raiders' defense picked off Rivers three times and forced a pair of fumbles.
"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," Chargers star safety Eric Weddle said.
That's the way you have to approach things. Take care of your own business first and hope the other chips fall in your direction.
Since that game against Oakland Rivers has rebounded to throw 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions in the ensuing nine games. He has generally been solid all year but San Diego's much-maligned defense also came up big in Denver, holding the NFL's most powerful offense to season lows in points (20), rushing yards (a dismal 18) and passing yards (295).
The unit is in a good position to carry that over this week against a team which isn't exactly bursting with playmakers. McGloin had a career-high four interceptions last week and has eight total over his past four games.
The Raiders have also been using Terrelle Pryor as a change of pace at quarterback but he has been even more careless with the football than McGloin.
'We're getting used to it," said McGloin when asked about the back and forth at QB. "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."
McGloin's biggest threats are Jennings, who is averaging 89.8 rushing yards with six TDs over his past six games, along with receivers Rod Streater, who is 154 yards away from becoming the first Oakland wideout with 1,000 since Randy Moss in 2005, and Andre Holmes, who has caught 14 balls for 257 yards over his past three encounters.
McGloin himself has amassed a solid 90.7 passer rating in his three career road starts.
The Oakland D has faltered mightily recently, surrendering nearly 35 points per game over the past seven weeks, worst in the NFL over that span. The group has also allowed almost 120 yards on the ground per game during its current losing streak and has really had trouble in space as evidenced by Charles' effort last week.
Conversely Mathews has been red-hot of late, amassing 230 rushing yards over his past two contests. He now needs just 80 more yards to set a new career- high (1,091 in 2011).
"We've got to do a great job of tackling in space," 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."