OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-4) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-4)
Thursday, 8:20 P.M. ET, NFL Network, Sirius (Oak 92, SD (3)
Because Nebraska at Penn State is not on until Saturday. Raiders at Chargers is your best shot at witnessing how a team overcomes disaster until then. The scandal at Penn State is rather more serious and we do not make light of it. Nittany Lions players will be challenged. Raiders and Chargers players will merely be tested. How they stand up to adversity holds a life lesson for all of us.
What To Watch
What is it about the West? The Seattle Seahawks won the NFL West with a seven win record and they needed a tie-breaker to do it. This year, the AFC West may be no better. The Raiders and Chargers are locked in a three-way tie with the Kansas City Chiefs for first place. The hapless Denver Broncos are only a game behind. All these teams have allowed over 200 points against them. With that lack of defense, the scoring should be entertaining.
The Chargers lost their last three games, helped along by Philip Rivers, their star quarterback who morphed into a human turnover machine (14 INTs, 2 Fumbles-1 lost). Rivers is not the only Charger hurting his team. WR Vincent Jackson has caught a mere 53 percent of the passes targeted to him, and he will be the best receiver on the field. San Diego needs much more from him now and for the rest of the season.
Carson Palmer did a better job in his second appearance for the Raiders that in his first, when he was pressed into service to call plays from his new playbook for his new team with a few days’ orientation. He threw three touchdowns against Denver, but three other passes went to the Broncos. The real issue for Palmer is that he is in game three condition — preseason game three, that is — while everyone else on the field is in mid-season form. Palmer suffered a quadriceps injury against Denver. It appeared for awhile that he might miss tonight’s game. The Raiders list him as probable. That’s good for the Raiders. Otherwise, Kyle Boller would start. That would be good for the Chargers, and bad for your eyeballs.
RB Darren McFadden is OUT for the Raiders. WR Malcolm Floyd is listed as Doubtful and is not expected to play for the Chargers. San Diego is favored by 7.5 points.
Who Will Win
Both the Chargers and Raiders win–and lose–ugly. You will not see crisp football played tonight. However, turnovers do make for drama. This should be an entertaining contest. Oakland will keep it closer than seven points, but the advantage goes to the home team. Chargers.
Editor’s note: TGS writer Thomas Gower will be in the Reactor for this matchup. If you want to share thoughts on the game with him, follow him at @ThomasGower.