The Raiders just played a football game at O.co Coliseum. It feels that way, anyway. Just four days after losing to the Green Bay Packers, they’ll face off with San Diego Chargers on Thursday night. They obviously want to right recent wrongs, and will be intensely motivated to do so.
The Raiders are 2-5 at home heading into their final East Bay contest on the schedule, and maybe ever. It will also be the last hurrah for safety Charles Woodson, who announced his retirement on Monday. This should be an emotional affair for fans and players alike. Here are five storylines leading into this Christmas Eve game, few of which have anything to do with the game itself.
1. Raiders last time in East Bay?
It’s possible Thursday night’s game marks the last time the Raiders play in Oakland. Owner Mark Davis is expected to apply for relocation to Los Angeles in January, and could be approved to play in Southern California starting in 2016. The Raiders and San Diego Chargers have partnered on a stadium proposal in Carson, while the St. Louis Rams are pushing a competing proposal in Inglewood. A decision is coming soon, and it’s uncertain how local fans will react to the possibility this is the final game in the East Bay. It would be sad to see the Raiders leave Oakland for a second time, something it seems supporters haven’t fully grasped yet.
2. C-Wood takes a bow
Raiders legend Charles Woodson announced his decision to retire after 18 excellent seasons. He planned to make his decision public this offseason, but moved things up to give fans a chance to say goodbye. That will happen during the season’s final home game, where fans and players alike will salute a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame player widely considered among the NFL’s greatest defensive backs. The game will be charged with emotion as his teammates try to send their captain out on a high note.
3. San Diego Chargers: Friend or foe?
The Raiders and Chargers generally don’t like each other, having played some critical games in this long divisional rivalry. The fans are dogs and cats, but the owners have shacked up on a stadium proposal in Carson. If that development prospect is approved, the longtime foes will share a stadium and a home market in the nation’s second largest media market. Raiders owner Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos have become good friends over the past year, which makes for an interesting dynamic as these teams clash in what could be the final game in Oakland, but possibly the first of many shared experiences in L.A.
4. .500 still on the table
Sunday’s loss to Green Bay ensured the Raiders wouldn’t make the playoffs for a 13th-straight season, an equal stretch without a winning season. The Raiders have made great strides this season, but hope to wrap up 2015 by reaching .500. That would entail beating the Chargers on Thursday and the Chiefs in Kansas City in the season finale. The Raiders have already doubled last year’s win total, but reaching 8-8 would give head coach Jack Del Rio positive momentum heading into his second season.
5. Milestone alerts
Rookie Amari Cooper became the first Raider to reach 1,000 receiving yards since 2005, but he isn’t the only player capable of reaching a major milestone this season. A few guys could reach single-season marks on Thursday night. Running back Latavius Murray is just 44 rushing yards away from 1,000. No Raider has done that since 2010. Edge rusher Khalil Mack has 15 sacks, needing one more to match the franchise record set by Derrick Burgess. Quarterback Derek Carr is four passing touchdowns away from the franchise mark for TDs in a season -– held by Daryle Lamonica -- something he could reach with an excellent game against San Diego. Michael Crabtree is also within striking distance of his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2012. Keep an eye on those guys as they get closer to reaching statistical goals.