Oakland Raiders (0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (4-1 SU, 5-0 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date and Time: Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 4:05PM EST
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD -8/OAK +8
Over/Under Total: 43
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In an AFC West battle, the San Diego Chargers make the trip up north to face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. San Diego is basking in the glow of 4 straight wins. On Sunday, they shut out the New York Jets 31-0 and are one of their best rolls in recent memory. In stark contrast are the winless Raiders, who had the bye-week to retool after the firing of their head coach Dennis Allen.
On one hand, you have a team in the Chargers who are flying high at 4-1 and are blossoming on both sides of the ball. And in Oakland, you have a team where things were so bad, that they had to fire their coach barely a month into the season. The initial instinct may be to jump on the Chargers, who have covered the spread in all five of their games this season. But its never that easy, is it? Maybe Oakland can get up for their longtime divisional rival and get some wind pumped into their sails, something that is known to happen following a midseason coaching change.
Former Miami head coach and interim Raiders chief Tony Sparano has his work cut out for him. But lets face it, this isnt the only bad 4-game window Oakland has experienced in recent years. The situation is not rosy, make no mistake, but one should hesitate to rule out the Raiders, especially as it pertains to wagering. Theyre getting more than a touchdown at home and still warrant a hard look.
The Raiders have been floundering at 0-4, but they only lost to the Jets by 5 and the Pats by 7. They also lost by 16 to Houston and in London, were filleted by the Dolphins, 38-14 in a sluggish display. Derek Carr has talent, but is still finding his footing as an NFL quarterback. The two-headed monster of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones Drew at running back hasnt made much of an impact, with Oakland averaging 3.4 yards per carry. The receiving crew, led by James Jones, is a uninspiring bunch. Look for Sparano, working with a rookie quarterback, to run the ball a lot.
San Diego has covered the spread in all their games so far. Their only straight-up loss was an opening-week comeback effort by the Cardinals. On Sunday, they were in full-bloom. Philip Rivers is having an amazing campaign, at 70% completions and 1443 yards, with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The aerial attack is clicking with a full cast of weapons all chiming in with timely production. Seven different receivers have caught TD passes and 4 receivers are already over 250 yards in the air. Sunday also saw undrafted rookie free agent running back Branden Oliver go for 114 yards and a touchdown.
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San Diego wont give up on the run despite massive injuries in that area. They had already lost their top two rushers, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, before seeing Donald Brown go down on Sunday to a concussion. Oliver is like a workingmans Darren Sproles and developing into a nice weapon. He will be getting re-acquainted with old Buffalo college teammate Khalil Mack of Oakland on Sunday, their rookie linebacker.
But thats becoming a problem for San Diego–the massive injuries. On defense, theyve lost Melvin Ingram, Manti Teo, and Shareece Wright and Jeremiah Attaochu have missed time and are due back, perhaps for this game. The offense has lost Mathews, Woodhead, and Brown at running back. Dominant X-factor WR Malcom Floyd is questionable. But the center position is in a state of absolute shambles. They lost vet Nick Hardwick. They turned to Rich Ohrnberger, who did well and then got injured. Then Doug Legursky came in. After a near-disastrous game against Jacksonville, he did OK against the Jets. But he left the stadium on crutches. Maybe Ohrnberger or Legursky will be ready by this week, but how long can the Chargers thrive in this next man up outlook theyre adopting this season? Theyve held up amazingly well so far, but you wonder if these things start resonating later.
The San Diego defense is starting to find its stride, aided by the long drives Rivers and Company are stringing together. On Sunday, they didnt allow the Jets to cross the 50-yard line until there was 7:35 left in the 4th quarter and that was a result of a pass-interference penalty. The Chargers have only given up 24 points in their last 3 games and you have to wonder what Oakland will be able to do to change things, with a paltry 51 points do far in 4 games.
Look for a well-rested Raiders team to play respectably at home against a team they often manage to get up for. Having Allen gone may give rise to a slight amplification of what weve seen thus far. But there is something different about the Chargers this season. For all we know, they may be one of the better teams in the league and we just need to see them put together the requisite body of work to warrant that high billing. I see San Diego pulling away for a double-digit victory.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting the San Diego Chargers minus 8 points.