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Keys to the Game

Posted Dec 29, 2012

The Chargers finish the 2012 season when they host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.

1. Pressure Pryor– For the second game in a row, the Chargers will face a quarterback once third on his team’s depth chart making his first career start. However, that’s where the comparisons end between Terrelle Pryor and the Jets’ Greg McElroy as the Raiders passer is an elusive runner who adds another dimension to the Oakland offense.  Still, the Bolts defense was able to amass a franchise record 11 sacks last week against McElroy and will look to duplicate that effort against another inexperienced QB.

2. No Turnovers – Turnovers played a pivotal role in the team’s struggles during the middle of the season when the Bolts lost nine of 10 games.  But the Chargers have dramatically cut down on their turnovers over their last three games making it no surprise then that the team has won two of three and is looking to end the season on a strong note.  Look for Philip Rivers and company to once again preach ball security in the season finale.

3. Dominate Special Teams– Special teams led the way for the Chargers in their Week 1 victory over the Raiders. They blocked one punt, recovered a fumble on another and converted five field goals to key the 22-14 win.  They are coming off another stellar game last week as Micheal Spurlock was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week due to his 63-yard punt return for a TD.

4. Bottle Up McFadden –Darren McFadden is the Raiders most dynamic player when healthy.  Unfortunately for Oakland, the star running back hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug for most of his career, but he will be healthy on Sunday.  As a result, they will feed him the ball a lot given they are going with Pryor at quarterback who has a total of two passes in his first two seasons in the NFL. Watching how McFadden does against the Chargers number four ranked run defense will be of utmost importance.

5. Rivalry Game – With both teams eliminated from the playoffs, the teams are playing Sunday’s game for pride as well as wanting to end the 2012 season with a win against one another’s bitter rival. Many of the Chargers have reiterated that it feels like an old fashioned high school or backyard football game and are looking forward to going out there,  enjoying the last game they will play for nine months, and finishing it all off with a victory. 

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