Thursday, 10 November 2011

NFL Thursday Night Football Preview

With the NFL reaching week ten in the regular season we see the return of Thursday night football broadcast on the NFL Network. This week we are treated to an AFC West showdown with the Oakland Raiders visiting the San Diego Chargers.
I imagine when the decision was made for these teams to be the involved in the first TNF game, the selection committee didn’t imagine the Chargers and Raiders would both be 4-4 and tied for the division lead.

For some reason it seems that each year either the AFC or NFC West will be the worst division in the NFL, this year it’s the AFC West’s teams turn to have a poor record yet still make the playoffs, fortunately I don’t see the winner of this division following in the Seahawks performance last year of making the playoffs despite having a losing record.

The division has got so bad that in the last three weeks Denver have gone from a 1-4 record, with a new quarterback starting, to a 3-5 record and one gameoff the top spot in the division.
Back to tonight’s game…

Last year the Chargers were beaten out of the top spot by the Kansas City Chiefs and didn’t make the playoffs. During the pre season the media said the Chargers would reclaim the division crown and possibly make a run for the superbowl (like they do every year...) but so far that hasn’t been the case.
One reason for this is the poor play of QB Philip Rivers, who is currently leading the league with 14 interceptions (throwing 7 interceptions in the last three games). The other reason the Chargers have been so poor occurred during the off season with the loss of Darren Sproles and Ron Rivera.

Rivera, now head coach of the Carolina Panthers, was the Chargers defensive co-ordinator last season and had their defence ranked #1. Sproles on the other hand was a do it all guy for the Chargers, returning kickoffs and punts, running the ball, blocking for Rivers and being one of the most deadly receivers out of the backfield. This type of change up player for the Chargers has been dearly missed and his loss may end up coming back to haunt the Chargers.

Also Chargers fans must want to know what happened during their bye week. Before it they were 4-1, since then 0-3.

The Raiders seemed to be back on track last season after consecutive years of poor regular season records with only a top 10 draft pick to look forward to. All that changed last year after the Raiders finished 8-8, going 6-0 in their division (the Raiders were the first team to go unbeaten in their division and still not make the playoffs).

This season with Hue Jackson taking over for the departed Tom Cable the Raiders are sitting 4-4 and 1-2 in their division, the performances of Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell had the team sitting at 4-2 after week six, since then the Raiders have gone into a downward spiral.

Campbell ended up on injured reserve with a broken collar bone and McFadden has been hobbled with a foot problem. Campbell’s injury forced the Raiders to go out and trade for Carson Palmer who since his return to football has thrown 6 interceptions in six quarters.

A week after getting trounced by the Denver Broncos, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders defence responds. With the offence not performing well it will come down to how the D plays to help them win this game and ultimately get back into the playoffs.

Dbl Coverage prediction: In this battle of the pick machines we see the Chargers winning, probably off a pick six. Chargers to win by 7.

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