By Dave Thomas
As the San Diego Chargers know all too well, their playoff fate may be sealed by the time they take the field this Sunday afternoon at home against Oakland.
Sitting at 7-7, the Chargers hope to break a three-year playoff drought, though they need to win out and get help to play come January.
After defeating Denver on the road 27-20 last Thursday evening, the Chargers were able to sit back and watch both Miami and Baltimore play their respective games this past Sunday and Monday.
Needing losses from both teams, the Chargers were dismayed to see both the Fish (8-6) and Ravens (8-6) score wins against New England and Detroit, respectively. As a result, San Diego sits a game back of both in the AFC playoff race, with the Ravens getting the nod if the playoffs started today.
Come this Sunday, Miami could make San Diego’s game meaningless if the Dolphins win in Buffalo earlier in the day. If they don’t, the Ravens could also end San Diego’s season with a victory later in the afternoon versus New England at home.
Either way, things don’t look promising for a San Diego team that has blown several games in the final minutes this season. Do you want to bet they’d like to have some of those collapses back right about now?
Oakland Looks to Play Spoiler
Meantime, the hated Raiders arrive in town with another losing season under their belts. To most Raider fans, the 2003 Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay (48-21) probably seems like two or three decades ago. Since then, Oakland has oftentimes found itself looking up at its division rivals (Denver, Kansas City, San Diego) more times than not.
The Raiders were competitive with the rival Chiefs for a period of time last Sunday in Oakland, but Kansas City ripped off 21 straight points to pull away for a high-scoring 56-31 triumph, keeping the Chiefs in the hunt with Denver for the AFC West crown.
While Oakland is assured of finishing in the AFC West this season, San Diego (10.5-point favorite) should not overlook the team that holds a 59-47-2 all-time lead in the series.
Penn State product Matt McGloin has shown some very positive moments for the Raiders under center this season, while Ohio State product Terrelle Pryor can also hurt opposing teams with his running attack.
In their first meeting back in September in the Bay Area, the Raiders jumped out to a big lead, then held off a San Diego comeback attempt for a 27-17 victory. It was a game that featured a first half where the Chargers looked and played like they were still asleep in their hotel rooms.
If San Diego is to prevail this Sunday and get itself a game above the .500 mark, grabbing an early lead and not giving the Raiders any window of hope will be the key.
As of Thursday’s practice, the Chargers were looking at the following injuries:
- Wide receiver Keenan Allen (shoulder) full practice
- Linebacker Bront Bird (ankle) did not practice
- Tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle) full practice
- Center Nick Hardwick (non-injury related) did not practice
- Linebacker Jarret Johnshon (hand) full practice
- Running back Ryan Mathews (foot) full practice
- Wide receiver/kick returner Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice
- Safety Eric Weddle (hamstring) full practice
- Corner Shareece Wright (foot) full practice
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.