Here’s a breakdown of how the Chargers (5-9) and the Oakland Raiders (6-8) match up as they head into Sunday’s game at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson:
When the Chargers have the ball
When the Chargers had the ball on their last series against Oakland, they failed to advance the football a single inch. In a 26-24 loss to the Raiders in Week 10, the Chargers had a chance to win when they took possession with 62 seconds remaining. They snapped the ball eight times and gained no yards.
The play breakdown: six incompletions, a defensive penalty and an interception. That’s the bad taste this offense will be attempting to rid itself of Sunday. But wait! There’s more.
The Chargers also are coming off a 39-10 pummeling, during which they turned the ball over to Minnesota seven times, the most for this franchise in a game since 1998. The quarterbacks more than two decades ago were Craig Whelihan (five interceptions) and Ryan Leaf (two interceptions and one fumble lost). The quarterback Sunday against the Vikings was Philip Rivers (three interceptions and one fumble lost). Rivers is trying to steady a season that repeatedly has wobbled on him. He is second in the NFL with 21 turnovers and, with 18, is three short of matching his career-high for interceptions. This is his final home game to prove he can still take care of the football.
When the Raiders have the ball
Oakland will be without 1,000-yard rookie rusher Josh Jacobs, who helped beat the Chargers in Week 10 by scoring a touchdown with just over a minute to go. He has a shoulder injury. The Raiders also have lost Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown because of a pectoral problem and left guard Richie Incognito because of an ankle issue. In other words, their offensive line is a mess.
After beating the Chargers on Nov. 7, the Raiders narrowly slipped past 1-13 Cincinnati but now have lost four games in a row, scoring only 49 points in those defeats. Their biggest weapon Sunday should be 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end Darren Waller, who has 80 receptions for 1,001 yards. With his size, Waller could be a vital option on third down. Oakland is eighth-best in the NFL at converting third downs, and the Chargers are 25th-worst at stopping teams on third down. Still, particularly given the injuries, this should be an offense the Chargers feel good about facing. The defense hung in as long as it could last week against Minnesota while the offense kept giving away the ball, until the whole afternoon collapsed in the second half.
When they kick
Since joining the Raiders in midseason a year ago, Daniel Carlson is 31 of 38 on field-goal attempts and 49 of 51 on extra points. He is coming off a game in which he kicked three field goals but missed from 45 yards in the final two minutes. With the Chargers sputtering through a 5-9 season, Michael Badgley has missed eight games because of a groin injury and has had little impact a year after emerging to stabilize what had been a problem position. He kicked four field goals in a Week 9 victory over Green Bay but hasn’t figured prominently since.
Jeff Miller’s prediction
Before these teams met in November, the forecast in this space had the Raiders winning by three. They ended up winning by two, which is a victory in the prediction business. By all logic, the Chargers should win and, consequently, are comfortably favored. But logic has had little to do with this Chargers season. Besides, Oakland somehow just lost at home to a Jacksonville team the Chargers beat by five touchdowns 14 days ago. So, in the interest of the NFL continuing to make little to no sense …