The Las Vegas Raiders moved to 6-8 for the season with a thoroughly dominant and historic 63-21 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.
The Chargers fell to 5-9 with the loss, and things won’t get any easier for the Bolts, as they have the Bills on deck.
The Raiders racing into an early lead with a 21-point first quarter and never looked back, outscoring the Chargers by a whopping 42-0 margin in the first half to already seal the victory by halftime.
From there, the rest of the game was a mere formality, with both teams scoring 21 points apiece in the second half of this blowout.
After an offensive performance that was the stuff of nightmares for coaches everywhere in a 3-0 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week, the Raiders broke out of their scoring slump in a big way on Thursday with a franchise-record 63-point outburst against the Chargers defense.
Quarterback Aidan O’Connell was in control from the start, throwing for four touchdowns and 248 yards in the victory. The ex-Purdue player spread the ball around to seven different receivers as Las Vegas stayed alive in the AFC with the win.
Las Vegas has struggled to pull away from teams in many of their games this season. Still, they finally got a much-needed win after dropping three consecutive games to keep their playoff hopes alive and get ready for a massive matchup in 10 days against the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day.
Most of the pregame talk had focused on Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and his job security.
It did not take long after the blowout loss to the Raiders - in their first game without Justin Herbert this season - that the Chargers hierarchy decided enough was enough as they sacked both Staley, as well as general manager Tom Telesco.
The Chargers are now 5-9 on the season and Staley, a defensive coach, had been at the helm of a defense that has been horrendous all season long.
Thursday's blowout loss was just another example of how that unit has underachieved this season, despite having some top-end talent on that side of the ball including Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, and Derwin James.
The Chargers have placed outside linebackers coach Giff Smith as interim coach until the end of the season, while JoJo Wooden - who was appointed director of player personnel in 2023 - will assume the general manager role for the same amount of time.
Both teams face big challenges in Week 16. The Chargers host the Buffalo Bills, who have the fourth-shortest odds at +700 to win the AFC Championship.
There is no easy ride for the Raiders either as they travel to Arrowhead to take on the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, who are +700 to repeat.
The Chargers still also have to face the Chiefs in their final game of the regular season, after a trip to Denver, who are the Raiders' final opponents following the Indianapolis Cols.