In an extremely late game, the San Diego Chargers will play the Oakland Raiders in Oakland tonight on NFL Network at 11:35 PM EST. The game was rescheduled earlier in the week due to an MLB playoff game featuring the Oakland Athletics, and the teams share O.co field.
The NFL Network is billing the game as a special edition of Thursday Night Football which tends to be a little confusing on Sunday night. Fans, of course, will figure it out and be on hand to watch the game no matter when it starts. The late game is sold out, so the stands will be full of the Raiders well-known rabid fans, with a fair sprinkling of Charger fans for balance (maybe).
The Chargers are currently 2-2, and facing a must-win 1-3 Raiders. Both teams are hungry to gain some ground in their divisions and position themselves for a playoff spot.
The Chargers lost to both the Houston Texans (31-28), and the Tennessee Titans (20-17) but beat the Philadelphia Eagles (33-30) and the Dallas Cowboys (30-21). The Raiders have lost to the Indy Colts (21-17), the powerhouse that is the Denver Broncos (37-21), and gave the Washington Redskins their first win (24-14). Their only win came at the expense of the 0-5 Jacksonville Jaguars (19-9).
Coach Mike McCoy cites “professional hatred” as key to winning tonight’s game. The Chargers are focused on winning the division, and the Raiders are the first team in their division they have faced this season.
The Chargers must also do all they can (within reason!) to suppress Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor missed last week’s game against the Washington Redskins after sustaining a concussion two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos. He has been cleared and is slated to start tonight. Pryor is a double threat, both as a deep passer and a rusher. He has completed 53/81 passes for 624 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. With his 86.7 passer rating, the Chargers must contain him, confuse him, and stop him if he tucks and runs.
Like far too many NFL teams, the Chargers are dealing with injuries in important positions. Tonight, as last week, San Diego must keep their team rolling despite these injuries. Chargers players have stepped up and all signs point to a continuation of that trend.
Phil Rivers is known to be one the best first quarter quarterbacks in the league, making a habit of stretching the lead early. The Chargers have had problems maintaining leads, so Rivers has to get into a rhythm and stay there to keep the Raiders at bay and gain a win in tonight’s Special Edition.
Raider Nation is notoriously loud and raucous, making any visiting team as uncomfortable as possible. Charger communication on the field is key to avoiding mistakes and protecting the ball.
For their part, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie announced Saturday that Oakland has signed offensive lineman Jack Cornell to the active roster, waving guard Antoine McClain to make room for him. The Raiders have kept Cornell on the practice squad since he signed on in September. He comes from the Baltimore Ravens, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. Cornell was cut from the team but kept on the practice squad until Baltimore waived him on Aug 25 this year, and he comes to the Raider’s lineup ready to actually play.
Late or not, this TNF Special Edition, on Sunday night, will prove to be a clash of bolts against rogues. Bother Raider fans and Charger fans are looking forward to this divisional showdown, and the winners and losers from Sunday’s earlier games will be waiting to learn who will improve and who will not.
Written by: Brandi Tasby