I don't normally do this. I mean, I usually write this "Chargers will win" post, but it usually comes after a post where I list 3 reasons why the team will lose their upcoming game.
Unfortunately, for the upcoming game, I couldn't come up with 3 reasons the Chargers will lose. There's really only 2 ways San Diego drops this one to the Raiders. Number one, poor coaching and unpredictability leads to the Chargers performing as poorly as they did when they lost to the Raiders earlier this season. Number two, a major injury to a major Chargers player.
Now, onto the reasons the Chargers should win...
In his rookie season, San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen has started 11 games. He's missed zero due to injury, has finished with 100+ receiving yards in 5 games and has 7 touchdowns on the season. Allen is having one of the best seasons for a rookie WR ever, and he's ready to feast on the Raiders secondary.
Against Oakland the first time, Keenan caught 6 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. In that game, he was mostly lined up against rookie CB D.J. Hayden, who is now on injured reserve. In this one, he'll be matched up with both Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. Jenkins is a speedster that will probably be ineffective against Allen, leaving Porter (and safety Charles Woodson) to use his instincts to try and bait Rivers into throwing interceptions like he did in their last game because he won't be able to stay with Allen 1-on-1.
In all likelihood, the Chargers will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by time they take the field on Sunday. This season needs to stand for the something. It's the end of the year, and that will be the message from the top down.
The season can stand for Mike McCoy, who would love to finish the season with a 9-7 record (which would be the Chargers' first winning season since 2010) in his first season as head coach. However, it's almost too easy to look back at the poor coaching decisions that cost the team games against the Titans and Redskins and wonder if there wasn't someone better suited for the job of leading this 2014 Chargers team.
I think the season had to stand for Philip Rivers. Like a phoenix he's risen from the ashes of Norv Turner's tenure in San Diego. His completion percentage, which the coaching staff is desperate to have above 70% at the end of the season, currently sits at 69.9%. His game against the Raiders in Oakland, when he threw 3 interceptions on prime time television in front of a nationwide audience, remains the largest blemish of the season for El Capitan.
I think this is Philip Rivers' final statement game of the season. I don't think he'll win it with a last-second pass, either. I think Rivers is going to absolutely dominate the Raiders through the air, putting up ridiculous numbers and sending a clear message to the rest of the division.
If that happens, it would put Rivers at 3-2 against the AFC West this season, with at least 1 great game played against each divisional foe, and the Chiefs game left in Week 17. I think that happens, unless....
Ken Whisenhunt is officially in audition mode. Every move he makes in the last few games of the season will be watched by about a half-dozen owners around the league that are considering firing their head coach, if they haven't already, and have Whiz near the top of their list to replace him.
Here's what Ryan Mathews has done in the last few games:
- vs. NYG: 30 touches, 115 total yards, 1 touchdown
- vs. DEN: 30 touches, 128 total yards, 1 touchdown
Ryan has made a strong case to be the team's primary offensive weapon in the second half of the season, and Whisenhunt may want to continue to ride that horse. It's one thing to be the guy that got Rivers to be successful again. It's a totally other thing to be the guy that was finally able to get consistent production out of the first round RB that fans had previously soured on. Either way, Mathews has arguably been Whisenhunt's most effective weapon in the last few games and could have another dominant one against a not-so-great Raiders defense in an effort to win his offensive coordinator a few more fans.