PREDICTION: Chargers 30-24
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Chargers have averaged 32.5 points during their four-game winning streak. The plan isn't a secret -- ride RB LaDainian Tomlinson until the defense proves it can stop him. If the Raiders, who allowed Tomlinson to rumble for 140 yards in the first meeting, figure out a way to contain him this time around, QB Drew Brees will need to play much better after throwing three interceptions last Sunday. Oakland is young in the secondary and should be very vulnerable to play-action if San Diego can establish the running game early on.
The Raiders' offense has flattened out with QB Kerry Collins throwing eight interceptions in his past 173 attempts -- and his slow release will be vulnerable to San Diego's improving pass rush. However, Collins must be effective in the vertical passing game because the Raiders, who averaged just 3.0 yards on 13 carries in the first meeting, won't earn a living by pounding the ball against the Chargers' stout front seven.
Raiders: WR Randy Moss has three or fewer receptions in five of his last six games. PK Sebastian Janikowski's 262 career points is tied with WR Tim Brown for fourth place in franchise history. WR Jerry Porter has 19 receptions for 333 yards and four touchdowns in his last three road games.
Chargers: Tomlinson has 1,129 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in nine career games against Oakland. WR Keenan McCardell needs one reception to become the 13th player all-time to reach 800 for his career.
Brad Badger returned to practice full time in the rain Thursday, but he still is unlikely to start against San Diego.
Justin Fargas has been active for the past nine games but has only two carries, for 2 yards each, in the third and fourth games of the season.
LaMont Jordan has 272 touches (218 carries, 59 receptions), trailing only Indianapolis' Edgerrin James (304 touches, 276 rushes, 28 receptions) in the NFL. Jordan is fifth in yards from scrimmage with 1,272 and is the only running back with more than 200 carries and 50 receptions.
Justin Peelle (shoulder) missed another practice on Thursday. Although Antonio Gates is back playing, Peelle's presence would be missed if he can't go. The Chargers figure to give the tackle on whatever side NFL sack leader Derrick Burgess lines up some help with their best blocking tight end, and that would be Peelle.
Nate Kaeding has been working hard at directional kicking, and it paid off on Sunday. Coach Marty Schottenheimer said Kaeding's placements were among the reasons the struggling coverage unit had one of its best games.
Nick Hardwick doesn't show up on the injury report, but his right hand has been giving him problems. That's worth watching on Sunday.
Vincent Jackson (hamstring) was restricted in some of his work. Jackson, a second-round pick, can't stay on the field because of nagging injuries had has but one catch this season.