Oakland Raiders (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-8 SU, 7-6 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK -3/SD +3
Over/Under Total: 49.5
The Oakland Raiders come to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday to face the San Diego Chargers. This is an important AFC West battle, especially for the Raiders, who are in the midst of a divisional race with the Chiefs. Their last game, a Thursday Night Football loss to the Chiefs, is something they’re looking to atone for this week. But it’s been a long time since they’ve beaten the Chargers with any kind of ease, with their matchup usually resulting in close games. The Chargers are coming off a 28-16 road loss to the Carolina Panthers and look to get better results at home this week.
This is the second game of the season between these two teams. On October 9, the Raiders beat the Chargers in Oakland, 34-31. Derek Carr had a big game and connected really well with Amari Cooper. The Oakland defense was torched early, before tightening up to get the big win. And that late-game ability for the Raiders to shine is something they’ve cultivated this season, winning a slew of up-for-grabs games with late theatrics.
The loss the Chargers suffered on Sunday was their most-lopsided of the season. They were never really able to get over the hump this season. But with so many close games, many of which they really should have won, they stood out as a dangerous team regardless of their record. Sunday saw them hit an emotional low. It’s been a hard season, with injuries robbing them of their zip on both sides of the ball. On Sunday, two of the only good things going for the team went south, with Melvin Gordon and DE Joey Bosa both leaving the game. The status of both men is questionable heading into this matchup.
The San Diego offense was holding it together pretty well this season, which was admirable considering how many key pieces they lost. Receivers like Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman were filling in nicely, rookie Hunter Henry developed into a useful weapon, and Gordon overcame a rough rookie season to have a strong year. But lately, the play of the O-line has really suffered and partially of a result, Philip Rivers has seen his form dip precipitously. In the last 6 games, he has tossed 13 picks. And again, after being in all their games this season, they never looked like they were going to win the game against Carolina. And now the line, an issue all season, is even more banged-up. With the Chargers, keeping track of the injuries have been absolutely dizzying.
The San Diego defense suffered more injuries on Sunday, with Bosa going down and Melvin Ingram needing to leave the game. It’s amazing how many injuries they’ve suffered this season, with the current defense they’re trotting out there bearing little resemblance to the one that started the season. The unfortunate part of the equation was that this was a defense that could have been really good this season. We see flashes up-front and in the secondary. They can make plays. Guys like Casey Hayward, who leads the league in interceptions, have been good this season. But in light of so many personnel issues, it never clicked for the Bolts this season.
The Raiders are coming off the long week after the loss to the Chiefs. Derek Carr has been great this season, with 3492 passing yards and a 24-to-5 TD/INT ratio. The offense can both run the ball and air it out with almost equal proficiency. Through the air, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree combine for a nice 1-2 punch. Seth Roberts is a clutch presence, along with Clive Walford and their backs. Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington have been big in the ground-game, with Carr also getting them involved in the pass-game. It’s a versatile and consistent offense.
The Oakland “D” is by no means infallible, ranked 30th in the league in yardage allowed. We notice all the 4th-quarter comebacks this team has made and the urge is to attribute it to the offense for scoring the points. But each time the offense staged a comeback or won the game in dramatic fashion, the defense was there enabling it to happen by shutting opposing offenses down. Some of those offenses had been exploiting this “D,” so it shows they can reverse form mid-game and be clutch when needed. This group is making plays, with Khalil Mack perhaps the most valuable defensive player in the league. Looking at how this defense was playing earlier in the season, they’re not all that bad.
This is a season-defining part of the season for the Raiders. They worked hard to get here, but need to follow through. You don’t want to get too critical of a long-losing team that is 10-3. But they’ve been a notch off their best form for a few weeks and this would be a good spot to get things rolling again. The loss on Thursday to the Chiefs was their first road loss of the season and with three of their last 4 being on the road, they will need to start showing that mettle this week.
Again, a Raiders vs. Chargers game is usually a close affair, regardless of the team’s records. There have been a lot of times over the years where one of them was good and one was bad and the games are often closer than one would suspect. With the Chargers suffering even more injuries last week and things just generally getting worse, I’m not sure they’ll be able to match the Raiders’ urgency late, with the Raiders pulling away for the win and cover.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Oakland Raiders minus 3 points.
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