Coming into Week 15 of the NFL regular season, the Oakland Raiders surely have to like where they are at. Although they are coming off of a winnable loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, they currently sit with a 10-3 record, one win away from clinching a playoff birth.
Two of their final three games this season come against the AFC West, with Week 15 slating them on the road against the San Diego Chargers. With the Chargers and owner Alex Spanos leaning towards a transition to Los Angeles, it seems as though this could be the last contest between these two teams at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Raiders are no strangers to the possibility of relocating, but it seems as though a plan has surfaced that could keep them in Oakland.
Coming into Week 15, the coaching staff each reiterated their own sentiments moving forward. Head coach Jack Del Rio stated he wants the team to run the ball more, while defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is seeking an improving pass rushing attack towards the quarterback.
With the team one win away from the playoffs, Del Rio still has his team prepared with their business-like mentality. Both he and quarterback Derek Carr are focused on the Chargers, rather than on playoff seeding.
Carr gets ready for another clash against Philip Rivers, whom he called a Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
Although the loss to the Chiefs was a tough one to overcome, Del Rio stated that Super Bowl caliber teams need to learn from their mistakes in order to improve.
Heading into this Sunday battle, both teams are experiencing their own injury concerns. For the Raiders, safety Karl Joseph was just ruled out with a toe issue, while defensive tackle Stacy McGee and linebacker Shilique Calhoun have also been ruled out.
Wide receivers Michael Crabtree (finger) and Amari Cooper (shoulder) are both listed as questionable, but are expected to play. Although Carr is still dealing with his pinky issue, he will play on Sunday barring any setbacks.
Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (knee) remains questionable for the contest, with lineman Vadal Alexander ready to take his reps should Osemele be ruled out.
For the Chargers, running back Melvin Gordon suffered an unfortunate knee and hip injury in Week 14 and has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest. Cornerback Craig Mercer is also listed as doubtful, after suffering a shoulder injury.
Statistically speaking, Sunday’s showdown between the Raiders and Chargers should be an offensive onslaught. Heading into Week 15, the Raiders have the sixth ranked offense (380.3 YPG) and the 30th ranked defense (384.5 YPG). On the other hand, the Chargers have the 11th ranked offense (360.8 YPG) and 17th ranked defense (353.3 YPG).
When looking into specifics, you can see how the Chargers are reliant upon their passing attack. The Raiders own the fifth ranked passing attack (264.2 YPG) and the sixth ranked rushing attack (116.2 YPG). To the contrary, the Chargers have the sixth ranked passing attack (262.8 YPG) and 23rd ranked rushing attack (98.0 YPG).
The Chargers have lost three of their last four games, as Rivers has been accumulating a lot of turnovers. In his last two games, Rivers has five interceptions, two fumbles lost and has been sacked seven times. Over half of Rivers’ interceptions this season are in the fourth quarter.
Both teams will premiere some of the NFL’s best pass rushers, as Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and Joey Bosa wreak havoc on the line. In 14 games this season, Mack has 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, one interception and 61 combined tackles.
With a win on Sunday, the Raiders can earn their first playoff birth since the 2002 season, when they made it to the Super Bowl.
Weather forecasts for the game project clear skies, with no chance of rain and winds averaging out to about 8 MPH. The game starts at 1:25 P.M. PST and will air locally on CBS.