SURFACE: Natural grass
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Dan Fouts
PREDICTION: Chargers 33-19
KEYS TO THE GAME: After rising to No. 2 in NFL entering its bye week, Oakland's running game has fallen flat with 77 combined yards on 30 carries with the Raiders falling behind in the past two games. QB Jason Campbell returns with Bruce Gradkowski injured again. San Diego entered Week 13 third in defending the run, so look for RB Darren McFadden to be used more as a receiver out of the backfield.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers continues to put up huge passing numbers despite an ailing receiving corps. If CB Chris Johnson (groin) misses a second straight game, rookie nickel back Walter McFadden will again be a popular target.
FAST FACTS: Raiders wideouts have combined for 76 receptions this season. Atlanta's Roddy White has 84. ... Rivers threw for 431 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting, a 35-27 Oakland win in Week 5.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Perhaps armed with little more than the final score, a reporter asked defensive tackle Tommy Kelly about the success the Raiders had against Philip Rivers in the previous meeting between the two teams.
"He threw for 400!," Kelly said incredulously.
Indeed, when the Raiders hosted the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 10, Rivers passed for 431 yards. He had 290 yards at halftime.
It was his biggest day against the Raiders in terms of yardage and came with a passer rating of 114.3, yet it was his first loss to Oakland after eight straight wins as a starter.
Simply beating Rivers twice in a season is a daunting task. Beating him this late in the season would be unprecedented.
To down Rivers the first time, the Raiders needed two blocked punts and a 64-yard fumble return from Tyvon Branch as the Chargers were moving in for a go-ahead touchdown.
It happened when the Raiders broke with their defensive personality and blitzed their safeties on the last six snaps, with Michael Huff forcing the fumble which Branch scooped up and ran in for the score.
With Rivers at quarterback, the Chargers are 19-0 after Dec. 1 in the regular season, the Raiders 5-14 during the same span.
As much as Rivers lit up the stat line in the loss, his days statistically against the Raiders have been below his norm. In the nine games, Rivers has passed for 1,857 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 89.2. His career average is 97.3
While Rivers had done enough to beat the Raiders, he's occasionally been frustrated when Oakland applies the requisite defensive pressure.
Rivers is at his most dangerous when getting rid of the ball quickly, unencumbered by a defender in his face.
"I don't want to go down there and let Phil get hot and try to play the rest of the game with him hot," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. "When he is in a rhythm, and he hits five or six passes in a row, it's trouble. If we can get him to hit one, then he misses a few, knock him down, get a three-and-out, that's what we want."
Rivers is having his best statistical season despite injuries to virtually all of his wide receivers at one time or another as well as rookie running back Ryan Mathews. He didn't get left tackle Marcus McNeill back until the sixth game of the season because of a contract holdout.
Still, the Chargers have won four straight and are in the thick of the AFC West race, one game in back of Kansas City and a game up on Oakland.
"He's been the most important piece of this whole thing," tight end Antonio Gates told Bay Area reporters on a conference call. "Philip and the offensive line have been the nucleus of the team. The running backs, have been in and out, the tight ends. Philip Rivers has been the nucleus of what we've been doing. He's playing at an MVP-type level at this point."
WR Malcom Floyd
But their chances of their late-season push being fueled by fresh and healthy players? That's not working out so well.
Quarterback Philip Rivers could be missing some critical targets Sunday as some vital pass-catchers continue to miss practice.
Tight end Antonio Gates' painful foot injury continues to keep him sidelined. He will test it in the hours before the game Sunday and determine what his pain threshold is that day.
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd was to supply a spark after getting back from a hamstring injury. Then he aggravated it early in Sunday's game at Indianapolis. He didn't work on Wednesday but was able to a portion of Thursday's practice and again on Friday.
Then there's Vincent Jackson, the Pro Bowler finally back on the active roster. Except that he only lasted two plays before straining his calf.
That injury came after he suffered a groin injury in Friday's practice - something not reported on the team's injury list.
While compensating for the strained groin, Jackson tweaked his calf and now is out this week and maybe longer.
Wide receiver Patrick Crayton saw his breakthrough derailed by a dislocated wrist and there's no timetable for his return.
Rivers, in completing passes this season to 15 receivers, has proven he makes do with what he has.
On Sunday, he'll be asked to do it one more time.
-- QB Bruce Gradkowski was placed on the injured reserve list with third degree separation of his right shoulder.
-- QB J.T. O'Sullivan was signed to the 53-man roster as the third quarterback behind Kyle Boller and starter Jason Campbell.
-- WR Chaz Schilens made it through a second day in a row for the first time since training camp.
-- CB Nnamdi Asomugha was limited in practice with a sprained ankle.
-- LB Rolando McClain did not practice with a foot injury.
-- SS Tyvon Branch was limited in practice with a shoulder injury.
-- DT Richard Seymour did not practice with sore legs.
-- WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) was a limited participant, but that could be encouraging news for the Chargers. The partial practice is more than he did Wednesday.
-- TE Antonio Gates (foot) could go Sunday but it will be a game-time decision.
-- WR Patrick Crayton (wrist) didn't practice and is out this week.
-- RG Louis Vasquez (neck) didn't practice and signs point to him being down Sunday. Tyronne Green would replace him again; Green did well last week.
-- RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) was able to practice on consecutive days and he will go Sunday. Mathews has missed the past two games and three this season.
-- RB Mike Tolbert (hand) didn't practice but he should be able to split carries with Mathews on Sunday.
-- CB Donald Strickland (knee) worked the full practice after sitting out Wednesday and appears ready for the nickel role.
-- ILB Stephen Cooper (knee) was limited after not working Wednesday. He will start Sunday.
-- WR Vincent Jackson (calf) didn't practice and is out at least one more week - probably two.
-- S Steve Gregory (shoulder) was limited in practice and should be available Sunday.
-- DE Travis Johnson (shoulder) practiced and is fine for Sunday.
-- TE Kris Wilson (back) has worked all the practices this week and will play and possibly start.