A relocation cloud hangs over the Week 16 Thursday Night Football matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.
The season hasn't panned out as either team would have liked, but offenses brimming with potential, a farewell tribute to safety Charles Woodson and the threat of one or both teams moving soon make for quite the interesting Christmas Eve encounter.
San Diego tight end Antonio Gates was one of many players talking about locales leading up to the game, according to Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com:
Before the two sides square off in what might be a historic farewell game, here's a look at everything to know.
When: Thursday, Dec. 24, at 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California
Television: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Game Pass
Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):
- Over/Under: 46.5
- Spread: Oakland (-6)
Team Injury Reports
Injury reports courtesy of ESPN.com.
Evening the Score
San Diego might tout a 4-10 record, but the last thing quarterback Philip Rivers and Co. want to do is drop perhaps a historic last meeting with their rivals, suffering a season sweep in the process.
The Chargers failed to defend their home turf back in Week 7, taking a 37-29 loss to the Raiders while unable to slow Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, who threw a trio of touchdowns, each going to a different target.
As surely San Diego understands, Carr somewhat wrote a blueprint on how to beat the secondary. The Chargers rank 11th in the league with just 237.0 passing yards permitted on average behind elite play from top corner Jason Verrett.
Verrett and the defense will need another gargantuan effort Thursday thanks to a stagnant offense. Despite the defense holding the team's last three opponents to 17 points or fewer, the Chargers have dropped two of three while scoring more than three points just once.
Rivers can't expect much from the run game behind him either—not with the team averaging a league-worst 84 rushing yards per game and just announcing rookie back Melvin Gordon will miss the rest of the year.
"I think really it goes down to everybody doing their jobs better, and not just Melvin Gordon," head coach Mike McCoy said, according to ESPN.com. "It's not just a one-man show. But he's got a bright future."
San Diego has a bit of momentum after a win last weekend, but it's going to take the offense matching its surprising competent defensive counterpart to avoid a season sweep.
Getting One for Woodson
Relocation is a huge topic, but so is the future Hall of Famer Woodson.
The legendary defensive back announced this week he will retire after the season, placing an additional emphasis on what has quickly morphed into a can't-miss affair between teams with a total of 10 wins.
"I felt it was only right that Raiders fans, my fans, fans that have watched me play for a long time, I'd let them all know that this Thursday night would be the last time in the Coliseum I would be able to run out there in front of our fans at home," Woodson said, according to ESPN.com.
Woodson's defense will need a similar performance to the Week 7 win to complete the sweep. There, Malcolm Smith and D.J. Hayden both intercepted Rivers, and the unit held the Chargers to 90 rushing yards.
The Raiders won't have to worry about Gordon or top-tier receiver Keenan Allen, who caught nine passes for 89 yards in that contest.
Given the way Carr handled San Diego last time out and two weeks ago managed two touchdowns to no interceptions in an upset of a strong Denver Broncos secondary, offense shouldn't be much of a problem for the Raiders this time around either.
With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on the outside and emerging tight end Clive Walford flashing, Carr won't lack for options at home as he tries to send his team off in style at home on national television.
Reading between the lines, this one doesn't seem too difficult to figure out.
San Diego's lost too many key players too quickly to be able to keep up in this game, win in Week 15 or not. To make it worse, a 2-2 record over the team's last four isn't so impressive when one considers the triumphs came against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins.
While Oakland won't make the playoffs, Carr and Co. stand as one of the better turnaround stories of the season and especially so after the upset of Denver.
Carr and his offense are simply too diverse and explosive for San Diego to match, just like the first encounter. With fewer weapons than the last meeting, expect Rivers to force it and make mistakes.
Odds are Woodson will be right there to capitalize.
Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 20
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.