With two weeks remaining in their respective seasons, bragging rights are all that is on the line when the Oakland Raiders host the San Diego Chargers in Week 16. It’s the final “Thursday Night Football” game of the 2015 season.
While neither team is going to the playoffs, Oakland has had the superior 2015 campaign. Going 6-8. the Raiders are two games ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West, and a victory on Thursday for Oakland would guarantee a last-place finish for San Diego.
The Raiders are favored by 5.5 points at home, according to vegasinsider.com. The over/under is 46.5 points.
Playing for Pride
Neither team has much to play for since both Oakland and San Diego have been eliminated from playoff contention, and the contest could turn ugly if one team goes up big.
San Diego has been out of the postseason picture for a while, having lost eight of their first 10 games. But the Chargers are still playing hard, beating the Miami Dolphins by 16 points last week and nearly forcing the Kansas City Chiefs to overtime in Week 14. It looked like Oakland might grab a wild-card spot in the first half of the season, but they have just two wins after a 4-3 start. The Raiders were officially eliminated with last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Chargers have been one of the biggest disappointments this season, guaranteed to have their worst record since 2003. Oakland has already doubled their win total from 2014, and they are looking to finish with a .500 record for the first time since 2011.
Who’s the Best QB in California?
Philip Rivers has consistently been among the NFL’s best quarterbacks for the last decade, but he might no longer be the best quarterback in the state. After searching for a franchise signal caller for years, the Raiders appear to have found one in Derek Carr, who’s arguably having a better season than Rivers.
The veteran has the edge in a few key categories, throwing for more yards (4,287 to 3,589) with a better completion percentage (64.9 to 61.0) and passer rating (95.0 to 93.5). But Rivers has compiled a lot of his stats when the Chargers have been trailing, and his numbers haven’t translated into points. San Diego ranks 25th in scoring, while Oakland ranks 14th in points. Carr tops Rivers in touchdowns (30 to 26) while throwing fewer interceptions (12 to 11).
Carr looked like he was headed to the Pro Bowl earlier this year, but he’s struggled down the stretch. After posting a passer rating of at least 100.0 in four of his first seven games, the Raiders quarterback has recorded a rating of 79.0 or less in four of his last five games.
If the first meeting of 2015 between these two teams is any indication of what Thursday will bring, it could be a long night for San Diego. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 37-29 in Week 7, but the final score doesn’t do justice to how much Oakland dominated.
The Raiders took a 37-6 lead into the fourth quarter, and the game was essentially out of reach at halftime when Oakland led by 24 points. Rivers threw for 336 yards, but he needed 58 pass attempts in order to do so. Carr, on the other hand, totaled 289 yards on just 31 passes, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Oakland also dominated on the ground, rushing for 130 yards on 5.0 yards per carry. Neither team has a strong running game, but Latavius Murray leads the Raiders with 956 yards and ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing. San Diego has the NFL’s worst rushing attack, and Branden Oliver led the Chargers against Oakland with just 35 rushing yards.
The Raiders are the better, healthier team, but Carr looks to have hit a wall late in the season. Oakland will look to get key plays from Khalil Mack and Charles Woodson on defense to help them squeak out a win.
Oakland over San Diego, 20-17