While the San Diego Chargers kicked off their season with a win over the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders, it's been a turbulent ride since.
The Norv Turner era could be coming to an end as a result.
In what is expected to be Turner's last game as coach, San Diego tries to go out on a strong note Sunday against an Oakland team that will start Terrelle Pryor in place of the injured Carson Palmer.
Turner - possibly along with general manager A.J. Smith - is expected to be fired at seasons end. The Chargers (6-9) haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and are set to finish with their worst record since going 4-12 in 2003.
"There's a lot of speculation that way and I know people assume that," said Turner, about to conclude his sixth season in San Diego. "As I said to our team, probably four or five weeks ago, this is really an outstanding group of people, aside from what they are as football players.
"Obviously we're playing a divisional rival. You're playing the Raiders, so we're just getting everything we can out of this week, enjoy each other, then we'll see what happens."
San Diego is seeking its third straight victory in this series after a 22-14 win at Oakland in Week 1. The Raiders (4-11), though, have posted back-to-back wins at Qualcomm Stadium after losing seven straight there from 2003-09.
"We're in the same division and we're located rather closely to one another," Philip Rivers told the Chargers' official website. "It goes back a long time. I know the fans and the state of California get fired up about it. And it just so happens it's the last game of the year this year.
"Obviously the case with these two teams, we've both had seasons we didn't anticipate, but it's a game both teams will be ready to go."
Rivers, who with 3,455 passing yards is all but certain to come up short of 4,000 for the first time since 2007, threw for 165 and two touchdowns last Sunday in a 27-17 road win over the New York Jets. The Chargers sacked the inexperienced Greg McElroy a franchise record-tying 11 times in that game, and would appear to have another favorable matchup in store.
With Palmer ruled out after suffering cracked ribs and a bruised lung during last Sunday's 17-6 loss at Carolina, the Raiders will give Pryor his first career start in this game, choosing him over Matt Leinart.
Leinart saw nearly all of the snaps after Palmer was knocked out last weekend, completing 16 of 32 passes with an interception. Pryor, though, beat out Leinart during practice this week and will try to jump-start a struggling Raiders offense that has failed to score a touchdown the last two games.
``We know what his strengths are, we know what his weaknesses are,' coach Dennis Allen said Friday. ``But really, to give him an opportunity to go out in a game, against a division opponent, at their place, and give him a chance to play, it gives us a view into the future.'
While the Raiders figure to lean on Darren McFadden given their shaky QB situation, the fifth-year back has generally struggled to find holes. He ran the ball 17 times for 33 yards against the Panthers and is averaging 3.3 yards per carry - the NFL's third-lowest mark among qualified players.
"We certainly want to get Darren going and we haven't really been able to get it on track on a consistent basis," Allen said. "We have to be able to block better, we've got to be able to run it better and then be able to execute in the passing game, which opens up some of the run game options."
McFadden was limited to 32 yards on 15 attempts against the Chargers earlier this year but hauled in a career-high 13 receptions for 86 yards.
The Raiders, losers of seven of eight overall, have been outscored by an average of 16.6 points in going 1-6 on the road.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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