"If it turns into a shootout...."
For one, Philip Rivers is still a dramatically better QB than Derek Carr is. If he plays anywhere near the level he played at against the Green Bay Packers last week, Carr might have a hard time catching up (even against an easier defense).
For two, Philip Rivers' record in San Diego is really good. He's 55-24 as a starter at Qualcomm Stadium, and even his stats are better at home (129 TDs against just 58 INTs). He might be good enough to beat a team like the Raiders by himself at home.
However, the thing that could really doom the Raiders?
We all know two things for sure.
First, the Raiders have a reputation of being one of the most penalized teams in the league every single year.
Second, flags help to determine the outcome of a lot of NFL games.
This is why the Raiders struggle to put up winning seasons!
Now, the bad news for Chargers fans is that Oakland is not the most penalized team in the league this season. Among teams that have played just five games this year, they're the second most penalized team behind the Tampa Bay Bucs! Good job, Raiders (I guess)!
If you're curious, the Chargers are about average for penalties being called on them this year (42 in six games), and they're about average for penalties being called to help them (42 in six games). What's interesting is that the team gets penalized more on the road (24 times) than they do at home (18 times).
If this ends up being a close game, give the advantage to the Chargers (and the refs).
Must. Win. Game.
This game means next to nothing for the Oakland Raiders.
Sure, they want to win, and they want to beat a division rival, and winning in southern California would somehow impact their hope to retire and move to the sunny beaches down here in the next year or so, but they don't need to win.
The Chargers need to win. They lost a heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers and a heartbreaker to the Green Bay Packers in the same week, and their playoff hopes are dangling by a thread. Mike McCoy is crying at press conferences, veterans are calling out the young players on the team, and Chargers Park is generally poisonous these days.
It's only going to get a lot better, with the team taking advantage of a soft-ish schedule and letting everything else fade to the background, or it's going to get a lot worse.
A loss on Sunday probably spells the end for McCoy's time with the Chargers (just a guess). It probably spells the end for Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle in San Diego, not to mention Malcom Floyd, which makes up most of the guys who called out the young guys this week.
This game can change the course of history for this franchise. Unlike the Raiders, who want the win, the Chargers need the win.
That has to count for something, right?