Week 14 Opener: Long Time Rivals Do Battle

In past years, a match-up between the long time divisional rivals Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers in week 14 of the season was as highly anticipated a spectacle as there was in the regular-season NFL schedule. This year finds both clubs playing for little more than pride.

The Raiders do not appear to have made any real progress over the last three years and the Chargers have regressed badly in 2008 after being considered by most experts to be among the leagues top five clubs over the same period of time.

As I stated numerous times this season, I would have some serious concerns if JaMarcus Russell was the future of my football club. In spite of his physical tools and arm strength, I don't see much in the way of playing instincts. He just doesn't look comfortable in the pocket, nor does he appear to process or see things quickly down the field. He's going to need to improve his overall throwing accuracy, not only down the field but also in his flair control. Last season, the Raiders made a tremendous financial commitment to Russell and. because of this critical factor, they will give him every possible chance to succeed over the life of the contract. Based on what I have seen to date, I'd say he has a very long way to go.

The Chargers defense, particularly in the secondary, has not played with any degree of consistency throughout the entire 2008 season. They have not done a particularly good job of restricting the running lanes and like many clubs that I have seen on the season, the Chargers are a poor tackling team.

Offensively LaDainian Tomlinson has not been right physically for much of the season and his rather pedestrian seasonal numbers certainly are reflected by the clubs four up and eight down playing record. Philip Rivers has been outstanding at times during the 2008 season, but still needs to become more consistent in his overall game. I believe he has a very good command of the offense, gets the ball out quick and most importantly is an accurate thrower.

With the Broncos three up with just four games remaining on the season, both clubs are playing for pride and little else. With a win over their long time division rivals, the Raiders would literally find themselves in a flat out tie in the AFC's weakest division. They certainly have a chance of pulling it off, but for no reason in particular; I'm going with the home team in this one.

Chargers 27 – Raiders 13

For More:
San Diego Chargers: BoltReport.com
Oakland Raiders: Silver and Black Illustrated

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