Oakland Raiders’ Amari Cooper (89) catches a pass against Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Graham (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — The Raiders will wrap up the 2017 regular season on the road against the Chargers at the StubHub Center. Sunday’s game will also conclude the regular season series between these longtime rivals, who first met back in 1960. Los Angeles defeated the Raiders back in Week 6, 17-16, in Oakland. Raiders lead the all-time series 62-51-2.
Oakland (6-9) dropped their third straight game, losing to the now 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles 19-10 before a national televised audience on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The Raiders’ defense played strong, holding the Eagles to just 216 yards of total offense (138 passing and 78 rushing).
The Silver and Black held the Eagles to just 1-of-14 on third downs. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman led the Raiders with seven tackles, while defensive linemen Denico Autry and Jihad Ward each recording a sack; it was Ward’s first career sack.
Safety Reggie Nelson was around the football the entire night, forcing two turnovers against Philadelphia in the second half. Nelson forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback TJ Carrie, and then registered an interception off Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles in the fourth quarter. For the game, Nelson finished with six tackles and three pass defensed.
Offensively, Oakland’s running game came alive behind starting running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 95 yards on 25 carries. Starting quarterback Derek Carr threw for 140 yards on 15-of-29 passing with one touchdown and one interception.
After missing the previous two games with an ankle injury, wide receiver Amari Cooper returned to the lineup and finished with three catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. Cooper got great separation from Eagles starting cornerback Jalen Mills running a slant-and-go for a 63-yard score in the first half.
Los Angeles (8-7) enters Week 17 with a shot at making the AFC playoffs. After a slow start to the season, the Chargers have now won five of their last six games after dispatching the New York Jets, 14-7, last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Chargers can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Raiders, coupled with losses by both the Tennessee Titans (8-7) and Buffalo Bills (8-7).
Starting quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 290 yards on 22-of-40 passing with one touchdown against the Jets last week. The 14-year veteran enters the final weekend of the season ranking third in the NFL in passing yards with 4,128 and ninth in touchdown passes with 25 and only 10 interceptions.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen appears to be all the way back from the torn ACL he suffered last season, ranking fourth among wide receivers in the NFL with 1,260 receiving yards to go along with 93 catches–all career-highs for the fifth-year pro. Allen has caught five touchdowns this season.
Running back Melvin Gordon is Los Angeles’s most versatile offensive weapon. Gordon is tied for third in the NFL with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing and four receiving). The third-year pro rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown against the Jets, helping him eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Gordon enters Sunday’s matchup against Oakland rushing for 1,012 yards on 257 carries, to go along with 52 catches for 445 yards this season.
The Chargers have one of the better defenses in the league, ranking fifth in the NFL with 41 sacks. Second-year defensive end Joey Bosa leads the team with 11.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Melvin Ingram is close behind with 10 sacks. After finishing tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2016, Los Angeles is currently tied for third with 17 interceptions this season.
Safety Tre Boston and cornerback Casey Hayward are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece.
Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.