NFL 2019 (Week 10): Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 10): Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

Despite having only four wins thus far, both the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers feel as though they are still alive in the playoff picture. Kansas City maintains control of the AFC West, and they even managed to go 2-1 in their last three outings without Patrick Mahomes (injured early in that first game), so the best bet for either team is a Wild Card berth. However, these teams do have experienced rosters and are coming off of wins. In the wide-open AFC, nine wins may be enough to clinch a spot in the tournament, and this game serves as an important litmus test to determine who has a better claim at postseason play.

Chargers: In a season that has seen his fellow 2004 draft mates benched (Eli Manning) and sent to IR (Ben Roethlisberger), Philip Rivers stands alone. What those players have that Rivers doesn’t, though, is a championship. Even though he has put up Hall of Fame caliber statistics for most of his career, Rivers has appeared in only 11 playoff games and never qualified for a Super Bowl. His window is closing soon, but it does appear that the Chargers are starting to wake up. Last week, they dominated Green Bay in a 26-11 victory that saw them hold a 19-0 third quarter lead. Rivers and the offense maintained a huge edge in time of possession, and the defense held Aaron Rodgers to 184 total yards. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are capable of taking a game over, which is a major boon to any aspiring championship team. With all of their losses coming by seven points or fewer, this team has been close all year. If they can turn it on against Oakland, Kansas City, and Denver in the next three games, they could find themselves in a much more enviable position than they are currently.

Raiders: Jon Gruden’s team is similarly peaking, as they have scored at least 24 points in five straight games. They opened the season 1-2 and failed to score above 16 in those two losses. The Raiders’ offensive line has been leading the charge lately, and quarterback Derek Carr has been the beneficiary, throwing for seven touchdowns and only one interception in the last four games while being sacked just once. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has also gone off for at least 120 yards rushing in three of the last four games. A potential derailment comes in the form of injuries to that solid offensive line. Center Rodney Hudson and right tackle Trent Brown are listed as questionable, which is never good news against a pair of pass rushers like Bosa and Ingram. Tight end Darren Waller is having a career year, leading the team in targets, receptions, yards, and first down catches, although he is second in touchdowns behind receiver Tyrell Williams. Los Angeles has been in the middle of the pack defending tight ends this season, so Waller could be in line for another big game. Furthermore, the Chargers’ starting strong safety, Roderic Teamer, is doubtful to play. Keep an eye on Waller.

Prediction: This one plays out as a defensive struggle, and neither quarterback is able to cut it loose under constant pressure from the other side. Rivers does just enough to set up for a last-minute field goal.

Los Angeles Chargers 22, Oakland Raiders 20

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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