Raiders Return to L.A. to Face Chargers

Big Oakland crowd expected at Bolts "home" game

The Chargers have a chance to make the playoffs on the final weekend of the regular season and still the biggest story at StubHub Center on Sunday will be the return of the Raiders to Los Angeles. At least it will with the crowd, which is expected to be HEAVILY pro-Silver & Black.

This is the first time the Raiders will play in L.A. since they returned to Oakland after the 1994 season and to trumpet the event the franchise took out a full-page ad in a few Los Angeles-area newspapers, buying the back page of the sports section as an advertisement for the stadium they’re building in Las Vegas.

The message is clear: We still feel like we run Southern California.

Oh, and then on Saturday night social media caught wind of the Raiders trying to lure their former coach Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and back to the sideline. The timing of that story is probably not coincidental since Raiders owner Mark Davis has not been shy about trolling Chargers owner Dean Spanos after their failed attempt to share a new stadium in Carson.

So the Raiders have stolen all the headlines and hype from the Chargers in the city the Bolts now call “home” … and nobody is really surprised at all.

As for the game … well the Raiders are out of post-season contention but the Chargers have to win and get some help to get into the playoffs so for them this game means everything.

The Chargers, Titans, Bills and Ravens are all still alive for the two AFC Wild Card spots. Here’s a very simple, dumbed-down version of possible outcomes:

Baltimore and Tennessee have the easy road: win and they’re in. If the Ravens win and the Titans lose, the Chargers (assuming a victory) get the 6th seed. If all four teams win (or all four teams lose) the Ravens get the 5th seed and the Titans get the final playoff spot since they’ll have the same record as the Bills and Chargers but a better mark against AFC opponents.

The Chargers do have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bills but that only comes in to play if it’s a 2-team tiebreak. If the Ravens and Titans lose and the Bills and Bolts win then Tennessee is out and Baltimore and Buffalo get the Wild Card spots. If the Ravens, Bills and Chargers win but the Titans lose the Baltimore and the Bolts are in. If we end up with a four-team tie (Ravens lose, the other three win) the Titans and Bills will play on.

Now that we’re all more confused than we were when we started we will forgo the usual keys to the game and just handle one joint assessment for the Raiders and Chargers, because the point is the same for them both.

They both need to have good games from their quarterbacks. When Philip Rivers and Derek Carr are on they’re two of the best in the game. If they start turning the ball over it will be nearly impossible to win.

They both need to get their elite pass rushers in the faces of said quarterbacks. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin can wreck a game every bit as thoroughly as Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Whichever pass rushing duo has the better day will tip the scales in their team’s favor.

And they both need to not do anything stupid. Bad penalties, letting emotion get the best of them, anything with that will either kill a big play or prolong the other team’s drive and that could be the difference in a win or a loss.

All that being said this is going to be a Los Angeles Raiders game. They are not losing it.

Final Score: Raiders 24, Chargers 20. The Bolts do what they always do when the chips are down and fold.

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