San Diego Chargers (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +3.5/OAK -3.5
Over/Under Total: 50
In Sunday AFC West action, the San Diego Chargers face the Oakland Raiders at the Coliseum. San Diego has experienced a whole season’s worth of frustration by blowing three games already, sandwiching a win over the Jaguars. After coughing up wins against the Chiefs and Indy, the Bolts gave up a win against the Saints on Sunday, with two New Orleans touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes costing the Chargers the win. The Raiders were able to beat the Ravens, 28-27, to win their third road game on the young season. Now at home for back-to-back divisional games, the Raiders look to kick it into high-gear.
Jack Del Rio has whipped this group into shape in Oakland. A team that could barely win a road game has three in the first quarter of the season. Their third wasn’t easy against an unbeaten Ravens team. The Raiders took a 21-9 lead in the final quarter, before the Ravens exploded to take a 27-21 lead. Usually that would be enough, but not against a late-surging Raiders bunch that again was able to make things happen late to avert defeat. Derek Carr hit Michael Crabtree for a 23-yard TD strike to take the one-point lead.
One of the reasons the Ravens were looking so good was because of their defense. That made Carr’s four-touchdown performance all the more impressive. With Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper developing into one of the league’s best 1-2 receiver combos, this aerial attack is formidable. Latavius Murray leads the run-attack, though they didn’t really go to that card much on Sunday. TE Seth Roberts and Carr are cultivating nice red-zone chemistry, as Roberts hauled in another TD on Sunday. What can really help take them to the next level in a league with such parity is their ability to make things happen late in games.
These last two weeks were also important to the Raiders’ defense. Even though they won one of their first two games, the defense was ragged indeed, giving up over 1000 total yards and just not looking like a Del Rio defense. Not that they’ve been invulnerable since, but they’ve tightened up a lot. As Baltimore showed, teams can put up some quick points against this bunch. They’ve still given up a manageable 37 points in their last two games and with this offense, that’s usually going to get it done.
San Diego has a lot of problems. Whereas the Raiders have been thriving at the end of games, the Chargers can’t seem to get much right in the final quarter. Three times, they should have won. But head coach Mike McCoy needs to shoulder some of the blame, as he looks like a guy at a blackjack table who’ll pass out if he loses $10 whenever the Chargers have the lead late. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be 4-0. Or maybe 3-1. But to manage just 1-3 with what they had available is a crime.
For such collapses to ensue, there has to be something good to start with and the Chargers can move the heck out the ball. Philip Rivers, as expected, has soldiered through losing his two best weapons, making it work with what he has—a good back in Melvin Gordon who is coming around and a still-useful cast of ball-catchers like Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and the recently signed Dexter McCluster. On Sunday, two horrible fumbles late, one each by Gordon and Benjamin, helped bring about the unlikely Saints comeback win.
For the past few seasons, injuries have derailed the Chargers’ hopes. They were hoping to avoid that this season, but have been unable to thus far. On offense, they lost Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, who both comprised a big chunk of the San Diego offensive production. The offensive line, which looked good when intact, is already battered by injuries with nearly everyone up-front having gone down. And a defense that looked like it could be getting into a groove has started getting bit by the bug. The secondary has been particularly hit hard.
Still, there are stretches when this defense has looked really good. Against the Chiefs, Colts, and even the explosive Saints, he defense was able to keep those offenses tamed for long stretches of the game. That makes it all the more bewildering when they collapse so thoroughly late in games. With the offense growing stagnant and the defense not able to get a stop to save their lives, it’s just too much to overcome, as the Chargers have become that dying horse in the stretch where you can’t believe they’re going to blow it, but you know they’re going to.
With the Chargers, something bad always seems to happen and it’s not just this year. Even in the last matchup of these two teams, a 23-20 overtime win by the Raiders at home, the Chargers blew a lead late. It can come in any form. First, the offense grinds to a halt, as the coaching staff decides to stop doing the things that led to getting a big lead in the first place. That safety-first approach never works for this team. Then someone on the defense will do something incredible to keep the other offense alive. A corner will fall down on fourth and long. Someone will get a personal foul after the “D” gets a stop on 4th down. It’s almost uncanny.
Still, there are some things to like about this divisional matchup for the Chargers. They usually give the Raiders a good game and the Oakland “D” should get challenged by Rivers and Company. It’s hard to bet on the Chargers, especially for anyone who has lost on them this season. There is just something extra painful about losing that way that understandably has bettors hesitant. I still think San Diego has enough firepower to give the Raiders a really good game.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 3.5 points.
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