The AFC West has been a massive disappointment with the exception of the Denver Broncos in 2012. Both the San Diego Chargers (6-9) and Oakland Raiders (4-11) have underachieved this season and are on the brink of some big offseason changes.
Chargers head coach Norv Turner will likely oversee his last game in the home locker room at Qualcomm Stadium. Turner and GM A.J. Smith are expected to be fired at the end of the season following another disappointing performance, according to ESPN.
The Raiders have their own controversy brewing leading into this season finale. Carson Palmer has been ruled out after suffering a rib injury in the Raiders' Week 16's loss to Carolina. Either journeyman Matt Leinart or second-year man Terrelle Pryor will get the start in his place.
Take a look at a complete preview and betting guide for this weekend's AFC West clash in San Diego.
Where: Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
When: Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox, DIRECTV: 717
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 86 or online at Audio Pass
Spread: San Diego -4.5 (via Covers)
The Raiders have just a 4-11 record against the spread overall this season. They also have just a 2-5 mark covering the spread while on the road.
San Diego has covered in nearly half of its games but has only achieved that at home in two of its seven contests at Qualcomm.
Neither team has anything to play for and the Raiders will be throwing their second or third string QB to the wolves with Carson Palmer sidelined. Look for the Chargers to win by at least a touchdown against a very beatable Raiders defense.
Over/Under: OFF (via Covers)
Nothing to see here.
Injury Report via CBS Sports (as of 12/27/2012)
CB Phillip Adams, Groin, Questionable
S Tyvon Branch, Neck/ankle, Questionable
DE Jack Crawford, Toe, Probable
WR Juron Criner, Hip, Probable
TE Brandon Myers, Shoulder, Probable
QB Carson Palmer, Ribs, Out
DT Richard Seymour, Knee/hamstring, Questionable
San Diego Chargers
RB Ronnie Brown, Hamstring, Questionable
LB Donald Butler, Groin, Questionable
LB Takeo Spikes, Hamstring, Questionable
LB Demorrio Williams, Ankle, Questionable
CB Shareece Wright, Shoulder, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Oakland: RB Darren McFadden
McFadden has not had a very impressive season, or three-game stretch for that matter. However, the San Diego Chargers have been beaten for 58 fantasy points on the ground over the past two weeks. That includes five total touchdowns for running backs in that span.
With Carson Palmer out, the Raiders are going to rely heavily on McFadden in order to keep this game competitive and move the sticks offensively.
Projected Stats: 27 carries, 110 yards, 1 TD
San Diego: WR Danario Alexander
San Diego has absolutely no real threat to run the football and the Raiders should do a good job containing the big plays on the ground. That leaves the Chargers' passing game as their saving grace in this one.
Alexander has made himself one of Philip Rivers' key targets, scoring six touchdowns over the past eight weeks since being inserted onto the active roster. He has the big-play potential that has killed the Raiders this season. That alone makes him the most attractive fantasy option for the Chargers.
Projected Stats: 8 receptions, 125 yards, 2 TDs
Key to Victory
Protect the QB
The Chargers did a good job neutralizing the Raiders' pass rush during the teams' Week 1 matchup. Philip Rivers has struggled with turnovers when under fire. The Chargers will need to hold back the Raiders' efforts up front in order to minimize Rivers' mistakes and keep the offense flowing.
For the Raiders, the same holds true. Whoever is at quarterback is going to be the target of a heavy Chargers rush that will look to stifle and disrupt the Raiders' offense.
Despite their struggles, the San Diego Chargers are still the better of these two teams. That will make things difficult for Oakland with Carson Palmer out and a a backup in the game.
This game can go one of two ways: The Chargers will quit on Norv Turner and lose their final home game of the season or they will get behind their head coach in what is likely his last game as the team's head honcho.
Bet on the latter.
Final Score: San Diego 31, Oakland 10