4:25 PM ET, December 22, 2013
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
While another impressive victory over one of the top teams in the AFC kept their slim chances alive, the San Diego Chargers still need plenty of help down the stretch to secure a postseason berth.
They'll try to take care of what they can control when they host the struggling Oakland Raiders, as San Diego looks to avenge an earlier loss and win for the fourth time in five games Sunday.
Three weeks after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 41-38 victory at Kansas City, San Diego (7-7) pulled off another big road upset with a 27-20 win over conference-leading Denver last Thursday.
With three wins in four games, the Chargers remain alive for the second and final wild-card berth in the AFC -- though Miami damaged their long-shot chances with Sunday's victory over New England.
Even if it beats Oakland (4-10) on Sunday and Kansas City in the regular-season finale, San Diego still could miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year without losses from the Dolphins and Baltimore, both 8-6.
"We can lament and kick ourselves for those losses or we can worry about what we can control and that's two games left in the season," safety Eric Weddle said. "I really don't care what happened the previous 14 games because they're gone and I'm focusing on the Raiders."
The Chargers held the high-scoring Broncos to season lows in points, rushing yards (18) and total yards (295). San Diego is tied for the third-fewest points allowed in the league in December at 17.0 per game.
While hardly as prolific as the Broncos, the last-place Raiders are coming off one of their best offensive performances of the season. They reached a season high in points while finishing with 26 first downs and 461 total yards in a 56-31 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
Making his fifth straight start, Matt McGloin completed 18 of 35 for a career-high 297 yards with two touchdowns but added a career-worst four interceptions. He'll need to take better care of the ball after committing eight turnovers over the past four games.
Terrelle Pryor also threw an interception as the Raiders continue to mix him in as a change-of-pace player.
"We're getting used to it," McGloin said. "We do it throughout practice and throughout the course of the week. The coaches are doing what they feel puts us in the best position to win, and I'm on board for that."
Rashard Jennings ran a season-high 23 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns, giving him four scores in his last two games. While filling in for the injured Darren McFadden, he was held to 41 yards on 10 carries in a 27-17 home win over the Chargers on Oct. 6.
McFadden might be able to return for this meeting after missing the last two contests with a sprained ankle.
Oakland picked off Philip Rivers three times, forced a pair of fumbles -- one returned 25 yards for a touchdown by Charles Woodson -- and held San Diego to a season-low 36 rushing yards in the first matchup.
The Raiders, however, have been bad defensively of late, surrendering a league-high 34.7 points per game over the past seven weeks. They've given up 119.8 rushing yards a contest during their four-game losing streak and allowed Kansas City's Jamaal Charles to take short passes and run untouched on three of his five scores last week.
That was part of a 195-yard receiving day that was the best for a running back in 14 years.
"We've got to do a great job of tackling in space," coach Dennis Allen said. "That's an area that we've got to work to improve on, because we can't let screens behind the line of scrimmage go for big gains like that."
Since throwing a season high in picks against the Raiders, Rivers have connected on 67.5 percent of his passes for an average of 270.9 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games.
Over his 10-year career, the four-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 62 scores with 17 picks while posting a league-best 28-6 record as a starter in December.
"We always seem to make it interesting," Rivers said. "We're a .500 ball club that's going to fight like crazy to get the next two."
Keenan Allen has been a key red-zone target with four touchdown catches over his last two games. He finished with six receptions for 115 yards and a score in the October loss to the Raiders.
Ryan Mathews will try to take advantage of Oakland's scuffling run defense, having totaled 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his last two games.
The Chargers have won eight of 10 meetings in San Diego.
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San Diego Chargers
|Avg Points Allowed||27.9||21.6|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||OAK|
|Rush Yds Allowed||OAK|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|San Diego leads 18-8|
|Oct 6, 2013||OAK 27, SD 17|
|Dec 30, 2012||OAK 21, @SD 24|
|Sep 10, 2012||OAK 14, SD 22|
|Jan 1, 2012||OAK 26, SD 38|
|Nov 10, 2011||OAK 24, @SD 17|
|Dec 5, 2010||OAK 28, @SD 13|
|Oct 10, 2010||OAK 35, SD 27|
|Nov 1, 2009||OAK 16, @SD 24|
|Sep 14, 2009||OAK 20, SD 24|
|Dec 4, 2008||OAK 7, @SD 34|
|Sep 28, 2008||OAK 18, SD 28|
|Dec 30, 2007||OAK 17, SD 30|
|Oct 14, 2007||OAK 14, @SD 28|
|Nov 26, 2006||OAK 14, @SD 21|
|Sep 11, 2006||OAK 0, SD 27|
|Dec 4, 2005||OAK 10, @SD 34|
|Oct 16, 2005||OAK 14, SD 27|
|Nov 21, 2004||OAK 17, SD 23|
|Oct 31, 2004||OAK 14, @SD 42|
|Dec 28, 2003||OAK 14, @SD 21|
|Sep 28, 2003||OAK 34, SD 31|
|Dec 8, 2002||OAK 27, @SD 7|
|Oct 20, 2002||OAK 21, SD 27|
|Dec 15, 2001||OAK 13, @SD 6|
|Nov 18, 2001||OAK 34, SD 24|
Philip Rivers was 17-of-21 for 164 yards and a touchdown on throws 10 yards downfield or fewer. Rivers' 81.0 completion percentage on short throws actually improved his league-leading 75.3 completion percentage on short throws through the first 15 weeks of the season.
ESPN Stats & Information