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Chargers Game Preview: Raiders vs. Chargers, Week 16

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Storylines

Bouncing Back Against Division Rival

Head coach Anthony Lynn was complimentary of the Raiders' talent Wednesday, while also recognizing that both teams have experienced ups and downs over the past few weeks.

"They got us the first time, and we are looking forward to playing them again," Lynn said. "I know they're coming off of a four-game (losing) streak, so they're going to be hungry and they have a lot of weapons. I'm sure Coach Gruden will have them ready to play. It should be an outstanding football game."

Pro Bowl Bolts

On Tuesday night, the NFL announced that defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receiver Keenan Allen were selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl.  

"Two guys who couldn't have been more deserving," head coach Anthony Lynn said. "They show up every day and work hard… It's nice that they were recognized by the fans, their peers, and other coaches. It's an honor."

Bosa, who led AFC defensive players in Pro Bowl votes, ranks third among defensive ends with 60 combined tackles (42 solo) and has eclipsed 10 sacks for the third time in his four-year career. He's been a consistent defensive threat for the Chargers all season, earning him his second Pro Bowl appearance, his first since 2017.

Meanwhile, this is the third consecutive Pro Bowl selection for Allen, who has amassed 90 catches for 1,046 yards receiving, including five touchdowns.

"He's been a great player for us," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "He has been ever since he got here. Obviously, you see three years (with) over 1,000 yards (receiving). Hopefully we get him over 100 catches again in the next two weeks. I think his daily commitment to his craft and his position, and you see him block in the run game, and he's an all-around receiver. He doesn't miss practice, he's available every week, he's a big time pro and Pro Bowler."

Defensive end Melvin Ingram was named as a first alternate while fullback Derek Watt received the same recognition for special teams. Additionally, Watt was named second alternate at fullback.

Last Game at Dignity Health Sports Park

While the last matchup between these divisional rivals marked the final game between them at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, this will be the Bolts' final contest at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park before moving into SoFi Stadium next season.

"I do like playing the Chargers down there in that stadium," Gruden said. "I think it's really cool. They've done a great job in the temporary time that they have to be there, and I'm sure they're very excited about their future as well."

Raiders Players and Matchups to Watch

QB Derek Carr and Offensive Line

Quarterback Derek Carr, with the help of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, has completed 70 percent of his passes this season, good for fourth-best in the league.

With the help of veteran guard Richie Incognito, the Raiders' offensive line has provided maximum protection for their quarterback all season, as Carr has been sacked 24 times, tied for fifth-fewest in the league.

Consequently, offensive tackle Trent Brown and center Rodney Hudson were named Pro Bowl starters, while Incognito was named a first alternate. However, Gruden announced Wednesday that Brown will not play on Sunday and will be placed on IR.

"We think he's the best right tackle in the league," Gruden said of Brown, whose pectoral injury will sideline him for the final two games of the year.

Similar to the Chargers, the Raiders have played in plenty of close games this season. This has enabled Carr to prove himself when it's mattered most, leading the Raiders to two comeback victories and three game-winning drives this season.

However, Carr has led an offense that at times has been unable to put many points on the board, as the team ranks 24th in points scored per game.

RB Josh Jacobs Out

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has taken the league by storm this year, solidifying himself as the Raiders' primary option at running back for years to come. However, Gruden announced Wednesday that Jacobs is "very doubtful" to play this Sunday against the Chargers, meaning backup RB's DeAndré Washington and Jalen Richard will see a "majority of the reps" on Sunday, according to Gruden.

"Any time they're thrown into a role where they have to start or play extended downs, they've done a fantastic job," Carr said. "You miss Josh (Jacobs) if he can't play, but at the same time you don't worry because we have two good backs who can handle it."

Jacobs leads all NFL rookies in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touches, earning him a spot as a Pro Bowl first alternate.

S Erik Harris

Last time against the Bolts, defensive back Erik Harris had the best game of his career. With two interceptions for 115 return yards, one touchdown, and three passes defensed in that game, the Chargers will have to be wary of him this time around.

DE Maxx Crosby

Tied with Vikings' Danielle Hunter and the Steelers' T.J. Watt for fifth in the NFL with 14 tackles for loss, Raiders rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby is proving his ability to affect opposing quarterbacks every single week. 

In November's matchup with the Chargers, Crosby contributed three quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and 0.5 sacks.

TE Darren Waller

After catching 18 passes in his first three NFL seasons, Waller has exploded this season, posting 1,001 yards on 80 receptions through 14 games. These numbers rank him second and third among tight ends, respectively. Waller also ranks 12th among all players in yards after catch and 13th in receptions, garnering him Pro Bowl first alternate honors.

"We met Darren Waller this time last year, basically," Gruden said. "We played the Ravens on the road, and we signed him right after the Ravens game. It's his first year really playing tight end full time, and forget the statistics-- 80 catches and 1,000 yards-- he's making blocks, pass protecting, he's doing it all. And he's a great, great story off the field. I hope his story continues to get more and more publicity for young people out there. He's proof that you can beat substance abuse...You can rip it and shred it and really defeat it and conquer it. I'm really happy for him."

Raiders Defense

The Raiders defense has struggled this season, allowing the most yards per pass attempt and tied for permitting the most yards per offensive play. Oakland has allowed the third-most passing touchdowns and the fourth-most first downs (tied), as well as recording the fourth-fewest takeaways.

"I know we're gonna have to play a lot better defense than we've been playing the last couple of weeks to slow (the Chargers) down," Gruden said.

That said, the Raiders tallied three interceptions, five sacks and 11 quarterback hits against the Bolts in November. The Chargers managed, however, to accumulate 26 first downs in the game.

Rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell has been a bright spot on the defense this season.

"We think Clelin Ferrell is a good 4-3 defensive end," Gruden said, "and if we can put some pieces around him, we think he's got a chance to be a hell of a player here for a long time. He's a leader in our locker room. We'd like to get more pass-rush from him...we gotta get more at-bats for Ferrell, but we're really pleased with him."

All-Time Series

The Raiders lead the all-time regular season series, 63-54-2, holding a marginal 31-27-2 edge over the Bolts on the road. 

In the teams' last matchup, Oakland narrowly defeated the Bolts, 26-24, as Ferrell recorded 2.5 sacks and eight total tackles.

Sunday's game will be the Chargers' final matchup with the Oakland Raiders, as the team will begin playing its home games in Las Vegas next season.

Raiders' Last Time Out

In their last-ever game in Oakland, the Raiders lost to the Jaguars on a touchdown in the final minute. The Silver and Black possessed the ball for nearly eight-and-a-half minutes longer than the Jags, outgained them by 102 yards and recorded 10 more first downs. And yet, a 4-yard touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to wide receiver Chris Conley proved to be the difference. Waller caught eight passes for 122 yards in the loss.

Injury Reports

For the Raiders injury report, click here.

Broadcast Information

●     Sunday, Dec. 22, at 1:05 p.m. PT
●     ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park (Carson, CA)
●     TV: CBS - Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Trent Green (analyst) and Melanie Collins (sideline)
●     Local Radio (English): KFI-AM 640 - Matt "Money" Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
●     Local Radio (Spanish): KFWB-AM 980 - Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
●     APP: Chargers Mobile (iOS), Yahoo Sports (Android) 

For more information on how to watch the game including the mobile app and live streaming, click here.

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