The Oakland Raiders have a short week at hand, and have an opportunity to take sole possession of the AFC West division with a win over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Unfortunately for Oakland, they just blew an opportunity to do so as San Diego lost to the Packers and the struggling Denver Broncos came to town. But Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a come-from-behind victory, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to take the win and drop the Raiders to 4-4 on the season.
Fortunately for them, the 4-4 record is shared by two other teams in the division: the aforementioned Chargers, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Oakland also missed an opportunity to improve their posisiton in the division just a couple weeks ago, when they took on said Chiefs, but were shutout 28-0. It's a contrast to last year, when the Raiders couldn't win games outside of the division, but beat down the rest of the AFC West each time they met.
Now they've got another crucial matchup against the Chargers. Oakland really needs to hunker down and get past the loss on Sunday. They've got a short week, and that might actually work in their favor. They'll need to immediately get into practice and concentrate on the Chargers, which should do a lot to get them away from the fact that the team just suffered a rather demoralizing loss.
Unfortunately, this will be a very tough game. The Chargers are coming off a loss, true, but it was a loss in which they out-played the undefeated Green Bay Packers in many areas, but suffered due to turnovers. Were it not for two Philip Rivers interceptions going for touchdowns, then San Diego might have ended up with a home win, which would have been huge. Their strong play is still a big deal, however, and Oakland will need to get things together sooner rather than later.
Carson Palmer looked improved in his second game for the Raiders, but ultimately still looked very raw and unready. He threw three touchdowns and did his part, but was counted on too much with running back Darren McFadden out for the game, and also had three interceptions. Michael Bush did have 96 yards on the day, but McFadden probably would have been much more efficient with those carries.
This game will come down to the defense and their ability to force Rivers into turnovers. He's been one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the NFL this year, so some timely turnovers could lead the Raiders to the lead in the AFC West. The Raiders really need McFadden to return as well, to help Palmer out as much as possible. As noted, this game will be on Thursday Night Football, so be sure to be around for it.