Chargers-Raiders Gameday Primer

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Harry How/Getty)

With the AFC West title under the Chargers' belt, a win against the Raiders would secure the coveted No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Just as important for the Chargers is the need to keep the starters healthy and ready for postseason. Here's a breakdown of the awaited combat.

--A win against the Raiders would mark the Chargers' ninth consecutive win over the Oakland Raiders. It would also give Norv Turner the first 11-win season of his coaching career.

--In Weeks 12 and 13, the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and the Broncos. If they beat the Chargers, they will record three straight wins over division foes for the first time since 2002.

When the Chargers Run

--LaDainian Tomlinson looks to seal his second straight NFL rushing title as he heads into the finale with 1,418 yards. He needs 82 yards for his fourth 1,500-yard season. He sits 113 yards ahead of Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson and 127 ahead of Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook.

--LT stands second in NFL with 1,886 yards from scrimmage end and aims for 114 yards against the Raiders, which would mark his fourth 2,000-yard season. Brain Westbrook's 2,005 yards from scrimmage lead the league.

--In LT's last game against Raiders in October, he rushed for 198 yards and four touchdowns.

--The Chargers' offensive line allowed one sack in last two games and opened holes for team's running backs to rush for 421 yards. The success of the Chargers' running game against the Raiders will rely on the performance of these players.

--RB Michael Turner is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Turner, a pending free agent, is likely playing in his final regular-season game as a Charger.

--Norv Turner has rediscovered the reverse in the last two weeks. Chris Chambers has carried twice for 17 yards and Craig Davis ran once for 6 yards. Sunday will be another opportunity to work on trick plays as the playoffs draw near. If nothing else, it gives opponents one more thing for which to prepare.


WR Craig Davis
Harry How/Getty

When the Chargers Pass

--WR Chris Chambers proves to be the most valued addition to the Chargers after being acquired from Miami midseason. Chambers is 79 yards short of his second career 1,000-yard season. In the last three games, he snatched 12 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown. Continuing at his current pace, he will find his second 1,000-yard season.

--Chambers and Philip Rivers have finally come into sync. The two average 5.8 yards per hookup.

"Each and every game we just have been feeling more comfortable with each other---what I can do and what he can do as well," Chambers said.

--Norv Turner notes that Chambers makes an impact even without touching the ball.

"It took a little while to have that effect. We're getting a lot better looks at the run and we're getting a lot better opportunities and more people concerned about our wide receivers and it helps us run the football," said Turner of how Chambers' arrival has opened up the offense.

--Opponents are left to evaluate -- and reevaluate -- how to cover the Chargers. LT agrees with Turner saying, "when you have weapons around you, any one of us can make the big play down the field. It really adds, I think, more explosion to the offense and people really have to pick and choose."

--Rookie Craig Davis, a college teammate of JaMarcus Russell at LSU, is earning a role in the receiving rotation. Davis has snatched 19 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown. Davis' speed and adaptability make him one to watch.

--Oakland's secondary, led by CB Nnamdi Asomugha (32 tackles, 1 INT) and second-year SS Michael Huff (81 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack), will test Rivers, who has at least one turnover in 10 games this season.

--TE Antonio Gates needs one touchdown catch to get 10 for the season. That would mark his third season with double-digit scores, which would set a new NFL record for a tight end.

--Gates is 78 yards short of his second 1,000-yard season. With 43 touchdown catches under his belt, he needs two more to land in fourth place on the franchise's touchdown-receptions list.

When the Raiders Run

--RB Dominic Rhodes rushed 115 yards against Jaguars last week. He joined fellow running backs Justin Fargas and LaMont Jordan as the three Raiders to rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season. Fargas will miss Sunday's game with a knee injury.

--In last seven games, the Chargers have only given up 84.3 rushing yards per game -- fifth-fewest in the NFL.


LB Shawne Merriman
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty

When the Raiders Pass

--QB JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, will make his first career start. Lane Kiffin will lean on his running game to ease Russell's burden.

--Russell's less-than-stellar performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week showed his inexperience. The Jaguars intercepted three of Russell's 23 attempts.

"When you're dealing with a younger quarterback, you want to make him make some decisions right away," Shawne Merriman said. "I think we have to come in here and do some different things." Merriman, who is 10th in the league with 11.5 sacks, notes that the Chargers "really [need to] apply some pressure on him and do it early."

--In the final seconds of the game against the Jaguars, Russell was able to find fellow rookie Zach Miller with his first career touchdown pass. Miller has 36 catches and three scores on the season.

--Russell faces one of NFL's leading defenses. The Chargers lead the league with 44 takeaways and 29 interceptions. Antonio Cromartie leads the NFL with 10 interceptions, while Clinton Hart has chipped in a career-high five.

--DE Luis Castillo is back and ready to play, as he proved last week against the Denver Broncos. After a six-week absence resulting from ankle surgery, he returned with a bang. He drilled Broncos QB Jay Cutler on the first drive, forcing a fumble that Merriman recovered.

--WR Ronald Curry leads the Raiders with 54 catches for 701 yards. In the last meeting with the Chargers, Curry caught six passes for 73 yards. WR Jerry Porter is right behind him with 42 catches for 669 yards (15.9 yards per catch).

Just for Kicks

--Mike Scifres, who was named a first alternate in the Pro Bowl, has placed four of his last five punts inside the 20-yard line. He's pinned 33 punts inside the 20 this season, the second-most in the NFL. In seven of the Chargers' last nine games, Scifres has drilled at least one 60-yard punt.

--Nate Kaeding's bruised lower leg is said to have improved greatly since Monday night. However, with the playoffs on the agenda, resting Kaeding becomes a priority. The Chargers signed Dave Rayner to the roster on Friday to handle kickoffs against the Raiders. Kaeding will kick field goals and extra points.

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