Week 15 Thursday Night Football is…the Los Angeles Chargers at the Las Vegas Raiders? Seriously? How did this game NOT get flexed out? Nobody, except for MAYBE people on the West Coast, want to see this game! Both teams would need a MIRACLE to make the playoffs; they are currently 12th and 13th in the AFC. This is by far the worst Thursday Night game left on the docket, with the next two TNF games being the Saints at the Rams, and the Jets at the Browns. On my Week 15 Power Rankings (posted on Facebook and Twitter/X), I have the Chargers at #23 and the Raiders at #25. Great…no meaningful football until Sunday, I guess. Well let’s dissect this game to see who might get a better draft pick for next season.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-8):
This is a team that should actually be 8-5 at this point. When I watch the Chargers, I see a team that lacks depth, lacks defensive playmakers (outside of Khalil Mack), and lacks a good head coach. Offensively, Los Angeles is 10th in passing yards per game, led by franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert. Justin is 11th in the league in passing yards (3,134), tied for 9th in passing TDs with 20, and tied at 19th for number of interceptions thrown (7) with Brock Purdy. Herbert also has the 5th best QBR (66.8) behind Patrick Mahomes, 13th in Passer Rating (behind Mahomes again) at 93.3, and completes 65.1% of his passes. Herbert is NOT the problem here. Unfortunately, he’s been placed on the IR to have surgery on his fractured index finger on his throwing hand and will be done for the season. So THAT will be a problem for the Chargers.
Wide Receiver, Keenan Allen is one of the only weapons that Herbert has relied on. Allen is leading the NFL in receptions with 108 (Tyreek Hill is second with 97), has 1,243 yards (4th), and seven TDs (tied for 6th). The next leading “receiver is Running Back, Austin Ekeler with 36 receptions. The next leader for the Chargers in receiving yards is Wide Receiver, Joshua Palmer with 377 receiving yards, and the next leader in TD receptions is backup Tight End, Donald Parham Jr, who has two. Ekeler is leading the team in rushing yards with 497, which is tied for 36th in the NFL with Ezekiel Elliott. Ekeler averages only 3.7 yards per carry, 49.7 yards per game, and has five TDs. His backup, Joshua Kelley has 382 yards, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, and 29.4 yards per game with two TDs. The “Bolts” are currently 26th as a team in Rushing Yards Per Game.
Defensively, Kahlil Mack is having a great season, but he is the only real defensive weapon that the Chargers have. Mack is leading the NFL in Sacks with 15, and he’s tied for fourth in Tackles for a Loss. With him is Linebacker, Tuli Tuipulotu who has four sacks and eight tackles for losses, and Defensive Tackle Nick Williams who has one sack and seven tackles for a loss. Their leading defenseman in interceptions is Asante Samuel Jr, who has just two INTs on the year. As a unit, the Chargers defense is 16th in rushing yards allowed per game, but 29th in both passing yards allowed per game and total yards allowed per game. They have also given up the eighth most passing TDs this season.
Las Vegas Raiders (5-8):
I thought the Raiders would be 7-6 at this point and flirting with a Wild Card spot, but this team derailed quickly. They fired Head Coach Josh McDaniels before he could even finish his second season, benched their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, who just signed as a free agent last summer for three years $72.75 million, and are on a three game losing skid after dropping their last game to the Vikings by a score of 3-0. Current starting QB Aidan O’Connell nor current Head Coach Antonio Pierce are the answers here. Jimmy G started six games, finishing with a record of 3-3, and leads O’Connell in completion percentage, TDs, and Passer Rating. O’Connell is 2-5 in seven games, with just four passing TDs, and has a Passer Rating just above Mitch Trubisky. Just put Jimmy G back in already!
Considering the Raiders offense has Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams, it’s hard to believe that they’re 22nd in passing yards per game, 28th in points per game, 29th in total yards per game, and DEAD LAST in rushing yards per game. Jacobs is sixth in the NFL in rushing yards with 805, but has a paltry 3.5 yards per carry, 61.9 yards per game, and six touchdowns. Adams has 76 receptions (T14 with DJ Moore), for 867 yards (19th), and just four touchdowns. The Raiders also have a solid WR2 in Jakobi Meyers who has 57 receptions (T32nd with D-Hop, Amari Cooper, Tyler Boyd, and Christian Kirk) for 616 yards and six TDs (T14). Maybe they aren’t winning more games because they’re the second worst team in giving the ball away on turnovers. They currently have 24 giveaways (tied with Minnesota and the Jets), and are only behind the Cleveland Browns, who have 27.
Defensively Las Vegas has Defensive End, Maxx Crosby, who is currently tied for third in Sacks with 13.5, and he’s tied for first in tackles for a loss with 18. Linebacker Robert Spillane has 3.5 sacks, and he leads the team in interceptions with three…and he’s a Linebacker…leading the team in INTs…not good. Vegas is 16th in total yards allowed per game, 25th in rushing yards allowed per game, 20th in team sacks, and tied for 26th in takeaways. In Turnover Differential the Raiders are tied for 31st with the Commanders at a -10.
I think this game is going to be the least watched TNF game of the year. For the Chargers, Justin Herbert is out, and Easton Stick from North Dakota State will be getting the start at QB. Wide Receiver, Keenan Allen, and Tight Ends Gerald Everett and Parnam Jr are all listed as “Questionable” to play, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to play either. For the Raiders, both Josh Jacobs and Maxx Crosby are listed as “Questionable”. This was already going to be a boring, pointless game, but if none of these guys play, I don’t see why anyone would want to tune in. Maybe if you have Adams on your fantasy football team, but you’ve probably got him on the bench already.
Another prediction is that if the Chargers don’t win this game, their Head Coach, Branden Staley will likely be let go. In his first season as Head Coach (2021) the Chargers went 9-8 and missed the playoffs. In 2022, they went 10-7 and then lost in the first round to the Jaguars. This year…they aren’t making it currently being at 5-8. They have lost four of their last five games, they’ve lost Herbert, and if they lose tonight, that has to be the final nail in the coffin. Easton Stick is the only wild card that Staley will be seeing. Maybe Stick comes out like Jake Browning, or maybe he comes out like Trevor Siemian. I’m thinking more like Siemian though. The last time these two teams met was in week 4, and the Chargers won by a score of 24-17. This time it will be much different. I’ll take the Raiders 17-13 over the Chargers, and Branden Staley era will be over in Los Angeles. Thanks for the “read”!