The 4-9 Los Angeles Chargers come into this game off a 20-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons. The Chargers are a puzzling team this year. Their offense ranks 8th in the NFL in yards gained. Their defense ranks 9th in the NFL in yards allowed. A top 10 offense and a top 10 defense combined usually yields a playoff team, if not a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Instead, the Chargers have one of the worst records in the NFL. Their only wins all year have come at the expense of some of the worst teams in the NFL: the New York Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Atlanta Falcons. The Chargers are middle of the pack in turnovers. Their rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, has mostly been superb. Yet they have lost one close game after another, often in heartbreaking fashion. Whether it’s just bad luck or bad coaching, the Chargers by all rights shouldn’t be a bad team. They should be a really good team. But their record says they’re awful. Go figure.
The 7-6 Las Vegas Raiders come into this game off of a 44 - 27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders are just barely clinging to playoff hopes. A loss tonight against the Chargers would all but eliminate them from playoff contention, as they would then be two games back in the loss column from the 7th and final AFC playoff berth with just two games to go. The Raiders have had all kinds of trouble stopping opposing offenses this year, having allowed 30 or more points in nine of their 13 games. They’ll need to do better against the Chargers if they want to stay in the playoff chase.
This is a big game for the Raiders and a meaningless game for the Chargers. Ordinarily that should favor the playoff contender, but we’ve seen too many spoilers ruin contenders’ seasons over the years to think the Chargers have no chance here. It’s the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football. Enjoy the game everybody.