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Chargers seek victory over Raiders, not payback

Coach Brandon Staley didn’t want to talk about the Chargers’ last visit to Las Vegas. He said he wished to keep the past in the past when asked if last season’s overtime loss to the Raiders, the one that knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs, would impact Sunday’s game.

“I’m not going to speak for anybody else,” Staley said. “I’ll just speak for myself, but, no, it will have zero impact on the game.”

So, it won’t be a revenge game?

“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing them in the parking lot,” Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. said when asked about going back to Allegiant Stadium. “Chargers-Raiders, y’all know what kind of game it’s going to be. We’ve got to go play. For me, I definitely know how that feels going back.”

So, it will be a revenge game then?

In fact, the game carries a great deal of significance for the Chargers, who desperately need victories as they attempt to rally for an AFC wild-card berth by season’s end. What’s done is done. It’s what the Chargers do in their final six regular-season games that counts.

The Raiders just happen to be the first team standing in the Chargers’ way Sunday, the same team that derailed their playoff hopes in Week 18 last season. Daniel Carlson’s 47-yard field goal as time expired gave the Raiders a 35-32 victory over the Chargers, who needed a win or a tie to advance.

Las Vegas advanced to the playoffs, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Chargers went home to address their shortcomings.

The teams met again Sept. 11 at SoFi Stadium, with the Chargers taking a 24-19 victory over the Raiders that seemed to indicate their many offseason moves were successful and they might be playoff-bound in short order. It’s a long season, though, and plenty has gone haywire.

No question, the Chargers and Raiders aren’t in the best of shape, for instance.

Literally and figuratively.

Each team is banged up.

Neither is currently in a playoff position.

The Chargers (6-5) have a winning record despite a seemingly endless string of injuries to key players, including edge rusher Joey Bosa, who hasn’t played since tearing his groin in Week 3, cornerback J.C. Jackson (knee) and left tackle Rashawn Slater (ruptured biceps).

The Raiders (4-7) ruled out two players for Sunday’s game and listed five others as questionable to play, including leading running back Josh Jacobs, who has a calf injury. Jacobs has gained an NFL-leading 1,159 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, and scored nine rushing touchdowns.

The Chargers faced far more questions about containing Jacobs in the days leading up to Sunday’s game than they did about last season’s defeat in Las Vegas. Assuming he’s healthy enough to play, Jacobs figures to be a headache for a depleted Chargers defense.

Jacobs is coming off a game in which he had a career-best 303 yards from scrimmage, including 228 yards rushing, in a 40-34 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He scored the OT winner on an 84-yard run, the second-longest overtime TD run since 1974.

He’ll be facing the league’s worst run defense, giving up 5.4 yards per carry.

“He is running hard,” Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said. “He’s being patient behind his offensive line. We have to do the same. We have to make sure that we match his tempo. We have to be consistent and make sure … not give up the home-run hitters. With our defense, being poised, not being shaken. They may hit a run here or there, but we have to make sure that we stay behind our scheme and make sure that we’re sticking with our plan.”

What’s the Chargers’ plan?

“Strike blocks,” Staley said. “Pursue the football. Tackle. Do it consistently, down in and down out.”

Last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals shredded the Chargers’ defense, but a funny thing happened when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter. The Chargers stopped the Cardinals on the ground and in the air on Arizona’s final four possessions, rallying for a 25-24 victory.

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