The San Diego Chargers began the season with hopes of making the playoffs, but their chances of reaching the postseason are quickly fading. They’ll host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in a Week 7 matchup, as they look to avoid digging themselves into a deeper hole.
A 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 put the Chargers at 2-4 on the season and four games behind the undefeated Denver Broncos. After winning the season opener, the Chargers have lost four of their last five contests.
"Brutal loss, obviously, losing the way we did," head coach Mike McCoy said after the defeat to Green Bay.
Through six weeks, the Broncos are already running away with the division. But the Chargers and Raiders will also have trouble winning a wild-card spot. The AFC’s top teams are separating themselves from the rest of the pack, as the No.5 and No.6 seeds have a combined record of 8-3.
Oakland is coming off a bye, though they’ve had a similar start to San Diego. Jack Del Rio's squad has a 2-3 record, having played four of their five games within a touchdown. Only one of the Chargers' games has been decided by fewer than seven points, and they had a chance to tie the Packers near the goal line with 15 seconds remaining in regulation.
Philip Rivers threw the ball 65 times against Green Bay, completing 43 passes for 503 yards. He leads an offense that is predicated on moving the ball through the air, as he ranks No.1 in the NFL in passing yards. Rivers has thrown for 355 more yards than Andy Dalton, who’s been the second-most prolific passer of 2015. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes and registered a 102.8 passer rating.
San Diego has relied on their pass attack because their running game is one of the worst in the NFL. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon was benched in Green Bay, losing a fumble and totalling 29 yards on seven attempts. The Chargers rank 29th with 86.7 rushing yards per game, and no team has fumbled the ball more times on rushing attempts.
Rivers could be in for another big day, considering only the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers allow more yards through the air per contest than Oakland (299.2), and are No. 21 in sacks (10). But Ken Norton's unit did intercept Peyton Manning twice in their last game, and have a strong rush defense, at No. 4 in average rushing yards allowed (83.2).
At home, the Chargers are given the slight edge at Las Vegas sportsbooks. According to vegasinsider.com, San Diego is an early four-point favorite, meaning they’d be favored over Oakland on a neutral field. The over/under is 47 points.
Both teams have played mostly close games this season, and Sunday’s matchup should be no different. The Chargers have lost a few heartbreakers in recent weeks, and they are due to get in the win column. Rivers could put up eye-popping numbers, once again, helping San Diego get the much needed victory.
San Diego over Oakland 30-24