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San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders Preview and Prediction

Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson

Christmas Eve will feature a matchup of division rivals that could be both on the move to Los Angeles next season. The San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders will meet for 113th time to kick off Week 16 on “Thursday Night Football.”

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Oakland (6-8) will enter the game with a chance to sweep the Chargers for the first time since the 2010 season. In their last meeting on Oct. 25, the Raiders embarrassed the Chargers 37-29 after Oakland led by as many 31 points in the second half.

San Diego (4-10) will be looking for its first AFC West victory this season with only two chances remaining. The Raiders are 2-2 in divisional play.

Oakland leads the all-time series against San Diego, 60-50-2.

San Diego at Oakland

Kickoff: 8:25 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV: NFL Network

Spread: Oakland -6

Three Things to Watch

1. Charles Woodson

Earlier this week, Woodson announced that his 18th NFL season would be his last. Thursday night will be the last game Woodson will play in O.co Coliseum as the Raiders will be in Kansas City for the team's regular season finale.

Woodson is one of the most decorated players in NFL history, as he is a nine-time Pro Bowler, former Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson also is the only player in NFL history to record at least 50 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career.

It should be an emotional game for Woodson since he played 11 of his 18 seasons for the Raiders.

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2. Philip Rivers

In what might have been his last game in San Diego, Rivers put on quite a show for Charger fans. In the 30-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Rivers threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns with a completion percentage of 72.2.

Oakland comes into Thursday's game ranked 28th in passing defense. So opportunities to gain yards in the passing game will be there for Rivers and the Chargers’ offense.

3. WR Amari Cooper vs. CB Jason Verrett

In the first game between these two teams back in October, Cooper got the better of Verrett.

Cooper caught two touchdown passes for 68 yards on Verrett and ended the game with five catches for 133 yards. Last weekend against the Packers, Cooper became the first Raiders receiver to record over 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss in 2005.

Since the Chargers’ first game against the Raiders, Verrett has just allowed one touchdown and he has two interceptions over his last three outings. Tuesday, Verrett was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Final Analysis

While the Raiders will miss the playoffs for the 13th straight season, progress is being made in Oakland. On the other hand, San Diego’s future doesn’t appear to be as bright.

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San Diego head coach Mike McCoy is on the hot seat. With the uncertainty of where the Chargers will play next season, there could be a lot of changes coming during the offseason.

Oakland will be looking to end its home schedule on a bright note and there are a lot of players with something to play for this late in the season. Lavavius Murray (1,000 rushing yards), Derek Carr (4,000 passing yards) and Michael Crabtree (1,000 receiving yards) are all within milestones and all three could potentially achieve them against the Chargers.

Despite the Chargers’ win against the Dolphins last week, the Raiders are the better team and they should pick up their seventh victory of the season.

Prediction: Raiders 34, Chargers 21

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.