The Las Vegas Raiders have made their road to the playoffs much more difficult after last week’s 44-27 loss to the Colts. But with three consecutive wins and additional help from other teams along the way, the Raiders still remain with a path that can get them in. Our staff of Silver and Black Today provides their predictions for the Chargers vs. Raiders Week 15 contest.
The Raiders (7-6) currently sit in the ninth spot of the AFC standings and must win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. While Las Vegas has regressed over the last three weeks, the defense has received much of the criticism. That includes the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther as coach Jon Gruden will turn the reigns over to Rod Marinelli to call the defense.
The Chargers (4-9) remain near the bottom of the league according to win-loss record, but quarterback Justin Herbert gives them many reasons to be optimistic for what their future holds. Los Angeles hasn’t stacked many wins this season, although a big reason for that comes down to their fourth-quarter deficiencies. If they can play sound football for all four quarters, the Chargers could presumably pose a threat to the Raiders as they did in Week 9, when it came down to the final play of regulation.
Wednesday’s injury report shows the Raiders will be without an abundance of defensive starters. Safety Johnathan Abram (concussion/knee), cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion/neck), linebacker Nicholas Morrow (concussion/neck) and defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) are all listed as out. Meanwhile, cornerback Nevin Lawson (illness) will be questionable for Thursday’s game.
The Chargers, however, have a long list of injuries as well. Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion) and linebacker Emeke Egbule (not injury related) are listed as out. Safety Nasir Adderley (shoulder) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (back) are doubtful to play. Wide receivers Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (back), running back Austin Ekeler (quadricep) and defensive end Uchenna Nwosu (back/shoulder) will all be questionable for Thursday night’s contest.
Here are our staff predictions ahead of Sunday’s Chargers vs. Raiders Week 15 matchup inside Allegiant Stadium:
Maurice Moton, Sr. Columnist
This game is a tough call with so many variables. The Las Vegas Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther on a short week. The defense won’t have defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder), safety Johnathan Abram (concussion), linebacker Nicholas Morrow (concussion) or cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion). Wideout Henry Ruggs III is also out on the reserve/COVID-19 list. On top of the injuries, the Silver and Black have fallen into a funk, losing three of its last four games.
This is an ideal time to jump-start the ground attack against the Los Angeles Chargers’ 21st-ranked run defense. Josh Jacobs practiced with limitations for the entire week. Trent Brown returned to action last Sunday. Remember, the Raiders didn’t have either of their starting offensive tackles in the first meeting. Kolton Miller and Brown will make a difference with Jacobs running behind them Thursday. We’ll see one punt all evening in a high-scoring matchup. Vegas wins with a Daniel Carlson field goal on the final drive. Raiders 38, Chargers 35
Scott Gulbransen, Founder/Publisher
This season for the Las Vegas Raiders has been a challenging one in so many ways. From COVID-19 (which every team has had to contend with), to injuries, to coaching changes, the Raiders have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them. For being in Las Vegas for their first season, Lady Luck has not shined down on the team thus far. Still, the adversity faced should build the character that will carry forward the final three weeks and into 2021 for this young team.
Still, the on the field results are not where they should be three years into Jon Gruden’s second tenure. The Raiders must show commitment and true character down the stretch to make the season a success.
I picked the Raiders to go 9-7 back in August and I’m sticking to that. They secure themselves an 8-win season tonight with a close win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Raiders 34, Chargers 31
Nick Cothrel, Staff Writer
The Raiders are coming off back-to-back games in which they allowed over 200 yards rushing. With running back Austin Ekeler back into the swing of things after his stint on injured reserve, this feels like a favorable matchup for the Chargers’ rushing attack. Additionally, the Raiders will miss four defensive starters, and factoring in Justin Herbert’s downfield throwing ability, this has the potential for Las Vegas to get exposed on defense once more. Quarterback Derek Carr may have to play near-perfect football for the Raiders to stay in this one, and I’m expecting him to put together another quality performance. However, in the end, I think it’ll be too much for the Raiders to overcome. Chargers 31, Raiders 27