The Oakland Raiders would be thrilled to follow in the footsteps of both the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers, who last week might have played their farewell games in their current cities and did so in winning fashion. The Rams got past the Buccaneers, 31-23, a week ago on Thursday Night Football, while the Chargers dismantled the Dolphins, 30-14, on Sunday afternoon.
Now it's the Raiders' turn to give their fans something to cheer about on Christmas Eve, in what could be the final NFL contest ever played in Oakland. To go out on a high note, they have to beat the 4-10 Chargers -- something they already did in Week 7 -- and complete their first season sweep in the rivalry since 2010.
The Raiders, though, haven't played well at home this season. They are 2-5 at the Coliseum and 4-3 on the road, and haven't won at the friendly confines since Nov. 1 against the Jets. Their only other win at home came against the Ravens back in Week 2. Still, with the threat of relocation looming, the Raiders could be inspired to play their best football in front the famed "Black Hole" and the rest of their fan base.
After being eliminated from postseason contention following Sunday's loss to the Packers, finishing off their home slate with a bang is pretty much all that is left to play for in Oakland. This will be the 13th straight playoff-less season for the Raiders, a streak that began after their Super Bowl run in 2002. The only team with a longer active drought of missing the postseason is the Buffalo Bills, who haven't had a playoff appearance since 1999.
The Chargers' playoff hopes died a couple of weeks ago and they've already clinched their first double-digit loss season since 2003. The wins have been few and far between for them in this miserable, injury-filled campaign. If they beat the Raiders, the Chargers will have their first winning streak of the season and just their second road win in 2015.
A 6-8 record would hardly be cause for celebration in most NFL cities. But in Oakland, it represents significant progress for a franchise that has been a mainstay in the league's basement for much of the past decade. The Raiders haven't had a winning record since 2002, the longest active streak in the league and tied for the fourth-longest in NFL history. In that span, they've never finished better than third in the AFC West.
Still, for a team that was 11-37 over the previous three seasons, there is some optimism finally among Raiders supporters. The future is very bright with a terrific young core led by quarterback Derek Carr, linebacker Khalil Mack and wideout Amari Cooper.
Carr has struggled in the past few weeks, but with six 300-yard passing games, he's tied for the second-most in a single season in team history. He also joined Daryle Lamonica as the only Raiders quarterbacks to throw 30 touchdown passes in a season. Mack's 15 sacks this year are one shy of the franchise record set by Derrick Burgess in 2005. And Cooper on Sunday became the first Raiders receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards since Randy Moss did it 10 years ago.
The lone bright spot in the doldrums of this Chargers' season has been the play of quarterback Philip Rivers, who has virtually carried this team on his shoulders. With little threat of a run game, San Diego has dropped back to pass on two-thirds of its offensive plays, and Rivers leads the league in both attempts and completions. He is on pace for nearly 4,900 yards passing, which would be a career-high and franchise record.
How anemic has the Chargers' rushing attack been this season? When Danny Woodhead ran it in from 2 yards out in the second quarter of Sunday's win over the Dolphins, it was the Chargers' first score on the ground since Week 1. They rank last in the league in rushing touchdowns and yards per rush, and only the Detroit Lions have gained fewer rushing yards this season than San Diego.
Who to Watch
Donald Brown, who saw his first significant action of the season against the Dolphins, did a nice job of breaking tackles and showed some burst with 90 yards rushing on 12 carries. It was his best effort since 2011, and perhaps a promising sign for the aforementioned pathetic Chargers run game.
Charles Woodson announced Monday that he is retiring at the end of the season, making this the final home game of his career. Woodson is undoubtedly one of the best defensive backs of all-time and a certain Hall of Famer. His 65 interceptions are tied for fifth in NFL history and his 11 pick-sixes are tied for the second-most of any player.
The Raiders' coaching staff indicated this week that Woodson could see some offensive snaps against San Diego. It would be a fitting tribute for the former Heisman Trophy winner who played on both sides of the ball at Michigan during his collegiate days, and it would also certainly be a special moment for the fans in Oakland.
How to Watch
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland
TV: NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson
Online: NFL Game Pass
The Raiders are the overwhelming pick to win this game among the experts. All eight of the guys at CBS Sports have Oakland, while seven of the eight here at SB Nation headquarters are also going with the Raiders. PFT Commenter is the lone person taking San Diego among the group.
The Raiders opened as 5-point favorites and over/under is 47, according to OddsShark.com.