When they take the field Sunday afternoon to host their hated rivals from the north, the San Diego Chargers may in essence be playing a meaningless game.
In the event the Miami Dolphins take care of business earlier in the day versus Buffalo, the Chargers will be eliminated from the AFC wild card race. Even if the Dolphins do not win on the road, a Baltimore win at home later in the day against New England would also prevent San Diego (7-7) from making the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Given San Diego lost at Miami earlier this season (Chargers did not play Baltimore this season), they lose the head-to-head tiebreaker should they and the Dolphins both finish with the same record. As it stands now, the Ravens finish ahead of the Dolphins if the season ended today.
Coming off of one of their best performances of the season (a 27-20 win in Denver on Dec. 12), San Diego should be playing with a sizable amount of confidence on Sunday.
So, what will the Chargers be playing for if the playoffs are not in play?
Among other things would be a .500 or better record, a season of hope that could lead its way into the 2014 campaign, and some jobs that a number of players do not have locked up going into the off-season.
Oakland at San Diego
Network - CBS
Spread - Chargers are 10.5-point favorites
Series History - Raiders lead 59-47-2
Prediction - Chargers 24-10