SAN DIEGO -- The Raiders are fading, having lost four straight games and six of the last seven.
Coach Dennis Allen's job security is a topic of debate, and the roster has a lot of players on one-year contracts who are either looking to come back or merely playing out the string on a 4-10 team.
The San Diego Chargers are peaking, having won three of their last four games to get to 7-7 and with a shot at the playoffs should they finish with wins over the Raiders and Kansas City.
Coach Mike McCoy is getting rave reviews for installing an offense that has quarterback Philip Rivers playing at or near the Peyton Manning-Drew Brees-Tom Brady realm, and the Chargers are well-rested after a 27-20 Thursday night win at Denver on Dec. 12.
There is no good reason to think the Raiders, given their play of late, have any shot at taking down the Chargers other than the fact that there are upsets every week.
"It's shown every week that a team everybody thinks is top dog or a lot better gets knocked off," McCoy said by conference call. "You have to play your best. It doesn't matter what week of the season it is."
It wasn't that long ago that the Raiders beat the Chargers 27-17 in Oakland on a late Sunday night on Oct. 6. It was the closest thing to a complete performance by the Raiders in all three phases this season.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, since replaced by Matt McGloin, was 18 of 23 for 221 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater on the first offensive play from scrimmage. Pryor also had 39 yards rushing. The defense forced a season-high five turnovers, including three interceptions of Rivers and a 25-yard touchdown return of a fumble by Charles Woodson.
The Raiders led by as much as 24-3, holding on for a 10-point win that was the largest margin of victory over San Diego this season.
"It's a team we have some familiarity with and it was one of our better performances of the season," Allen said. "Our guys feel confident that they can play against these guys, and we just have to go out and do it."
The Raiders' frame of mind is an open question. Allen has been steadfast in his refusal to address anything but the next game on the schedule, having received no assurances about his employment beyond this season.
"My job is to try to get this team better, to try and put a good product on the field, to help these guys and put them in the best position to have success," Allen said. "That's been my job since Day 1 and that won't change."
Wide receiver Denarius Moore believes being concerned with the future of the coaching staff and roster makeup would be counterproductive.
"Once you let it get to your mind, that's when it gets the best of you and you could possibly lose your job," Moore said. "You're worrying about something else, you start messing up, making too many mistakes."
Fullback Marcel Reece said the coaching staff has kept the roster focused, but that the on-field performance will be most affected by how the core of the roster is affected.
"I think the coaches have done a great job, but at the same time, that's not necessarily their responsibility," Reece said. "That's our responsibility, as players, as leaders, as veterans, to keep our team focused on the task at hand."
The task is considerable, considering how San Diego has played of late. Rivers is completing 69.9 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions, Ryan Mathews has 1,012 yards rushing, and a leaky secondary was good enough to keep Manning under control.
"We understand the challenge that's in front of us," Allen said.