Oakland Raiders Must Be Focused As Chargers Want To Play Grinch

Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls a play against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls a play against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders’ mission is simple – win and they’ll secure a spot in the postseason. But San Diego will most definitely be looking to ruin Oakland’s holiday cheer.

Sitting at 10-3, the Oakland Raiders are on the precipice of claiming a playoff berth for the first time in a very long time. Standing between them and punching that ticket are Philip Rivers and the Chargers.

San Diego, 5-8, and playing out the string in an injury plagued, lost season, would love nothing more than to stick a big lump of coal in Oakland’s stocking by denying them the ability to clinch on their home field – or Oakland’s secondary home field, if you listen to Derek Carr.

It’s been a long time coming for the Silver and Black – not to mention, for the Nation – but the deal isn’t done just yet. That ticket hasn’t been punched and there are still a lot of things that can go wrong if the team isn’t focused and doesn’t play smart, disciplined football.

They will certainly have to play a better game than they did in Kansas City last week, where a flat offense, a defense that couldn’t seem to stop Travis Kelce, special teams that weren’t so special, and a receiving group that had trouble hanging on to the ball spelled nothing but big trouble for the Raiders.

But other than that, things were great.

About the only bright spot in Oakland’s offensive showing last week was the running game. Latavius Murray and Jalen Richard combined to gash the Chiefs for 135 yards, gutting out some tough yards and making some big plays when needed.

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It was an uncharacteristically poor showing from Carr as well as some terrible drops by Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts that led to Oakland’s demise on that cold, frozen turf. Well, that and an apparent angel in the outfield that deflected a pass to Amari Cooper.

But now, with control of the division out of their hands entirely, the Raiders will need to focus on what’s staring them in the face – the San Diego Chargers.

This is a banged up Chargers squad that doesn’t have much left to play for. They won’t be making the postseason, they will likely be in another city soon enough, and they have more players on the IR than you can shake a stick at.

Despite those facts though, these Chargers are scrappy. They’ll fight tooth and nail. And given their hatred for the Raiders, they’ll do everything they can to spoil their playoff party.

Hey, in Charger-world, the only thing better than making the playoffs themselves is denying the Raiders a chance to get there.

And let’s not forget that it wasn’t all that long ago a depleted Chargers team gave the Raiders all they could handle and then some. If not for a botched game-tying field goal attempt at the end of the game, who knows what might have happened.

Oakland’s defense can’t afford to get off to the slow start they did in the first half against the Chiefs. Alex Smith threw for more than 200 yards in that first half and Kansas City rolled up 223 of their 323 yards of total offense.

They also scored their 21 points in a disastrous second quarter for the Raiders – one on a Tyreek Hill punt return for a touchdown, one on a Smith to Kelce pass, and their third on a Charcandrick West run.

Both offensive touchdowns came after long drives that saw the defense get pushed around.

But coming out after the break, Oakland’s defense came to life, forcing turnovers on Kansas City’s first two possessions of the half. And set up in great field position – both turnovers were inside Kansas City’s 20, the Raiders came away with a grand total of three points. Three.

It was all part of a terrible offensive showing by the Raiders. A showing this team cannot afford to repeat.

They’ll be facing a Chargers team without Melvin Gordon, out with a hip injury. They’ll also be facing a secondary without Brandon Flowers, placed on season ending IR as he deals with a concussion. Those two are among a plethora of playmakers the Chargers will be without.

Which, on the surface, could seem like an incredible break. And it is. But on a deeper level, it is something the team must be wary of. Facing a team so depleted and riddled by injury, it might be easy to slip into complacency. To think that, without so many of their stars, the Chargers will just roll over — or that they can turn it on at any moment and pull another game out of the fire – is dangerous. To say the least.

It’s very dangerous thinking and the sort of thinking that they must guard against, lest they suffer a letdown that puts their playoff positioning – or their ability to reach the postseason at all – at risk.

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The Raiders need to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders against the Chargers. They need to put their foot on the back of San Diego’s neck and not let them up. Oakland needs to come out focused, fired up, and take the Chargers out behind the woodshed from the jump.

To control their own destiny, punch a ticket to the postseason, and get their holiday festivities started off on the right foot, the Raiders must come out and play smart, focused, and disciplined football – and not let San Diego play Grinch.