There’s no way to sugarcoat the rivalry that is shared in the AFC West between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. The Bolts have a solid amount of disdain for their neighbors to the north, and the Raiders, well, they just don’t like much of anything. History is the best motivation an NFL team can find, and the Chargers have plenty of reason to want a big win in their Week 16 battle at home aside from the rivalry aspect.
Week 5 was a calamity of errors that fans of the Chargers have grown accustomed to seeing in recent years with Norv Turner in charge. Scenes like the one above must be avoided in the second meeting if the Bolts want the outcome to be any different than the Week 5 affair. That game was a nightmare that most teams wouldn’t wish on their most bitter rivals, and the Chargers still feel the pain of that loss today as they sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
Three Philip Rivers interceptions along with lost fumbles by both Danny Woodhead and Eddie Royal accounted for the five total turnovers the Bolts had back in early October. The Woodhead fumble in particular (seen above) was returned the other way for a direct six points onto the scoreboard for Oakland courtesy of cornerback Charles Woodson. Heck, the early fumble by Royal was cashed in on the next snap when the Raiders came out and threw a bomb over the top of the San Diego defense.
Needless to say, momentum shifts were a huge part of the first contest. That aforementioned bomb was followed up by a Chargers procession down the field to the goal line where they would be stuffed on fourth down. These types of swings in the pendulum must be avoided against inferior opponents, and the Bolts failed that test miserably the first time around.
Believe it or not, the largest loss of the season for the Chargers came against these Raiders back on that fateful night. Thankfully the majority of the country was asleep when the previous game kicked off thanks to an MLB scheduling squabble, but unfortunately the highlights (or lowlights rather) still surfaced as evidence that it did indeed transpire.
So while it may seem like it goes without saying, clearly it doesn’t given what took place back in Week 5. Turnovers can’t be a part of this game if the Bolts want to avoid giving the rival Raiders any motivation to hang around on the scoreboard. The Chargers’ pulse in the playoff race may be faint, but it will officially be a flat line with another egg-laying outing like the game back in October.