Oakland Raiders (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS)
NFL Week 7
Date/Time: Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +4/SD -4
Over/Under Total: 47
The Oakland Raiders come to Qualcomm to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon in AFC West action. The Raiders are coming off a bye-week, where they can ruminate on a start to the season that has been promising, yet has produced two straight losses. Two Sundays ago, they lost to the Broncos, 16-10. The Chargers played last Sunday at Lambeau Field, giving the Packers a run for their money en route to a 27-20 loss. They now return home at 2-4 and really needing a win.
Things started off decently for San Diego with a home win over the Lions, before two straight road losses to the Bengals and Vikings left them a bit sideways. They were fortunate to beat the Browns at home, before suffering two more lossesto the Steelers and Packers. The last two defeats took place in games that were winnable. Two weeks ago, they couldnt stop a late TD drive by the Steelers and last Sunday, they got stood up in an effort to score late.
Philip Rivers has been fantastic, with a 503-yard passing performance on Sunday. The fact that hes producing with the state of his offensive line is a testament to his skill and his resolve. But the grandiose passing numbers, while impressive, only speak to the front lines inability to create a substantial run-game. And after two fumbles on Sunday, Melvin Gordon was benched. This offense is pretty one-dimensional, though that one dimension can be a real handful.
On Sunday, Keenan Allen had 14 receptions, before leaving the game with a hip injury. As of press time, his status is unknown. But this is a San Diego passing game that can afford losses due to its depth. Still, Allen is nearly unstoppable when on a roll and his presence would be desirable. Tight end Antonio Gates has hit the ground running since returning from a suspension and his backup Ladarius Green has continued to get targeted, giving San Diego a dynamic 1-2 tight end attack. RB Danny Woodhead has been productive as a short option, with Malcom Floyd adding a deep threat. This offense features a lot of differently-abled talents. The lack of a ground game doesnt necessarily mean this offense isnt versatile.
With 548 yards of total offense, the Chargers were still only able to manufacture 20 points on Sunday. That seems to be an ongoing problem. San Diego is better in open space. When confined to the red-zone field, they seem stifled. The plays dont seem all that creative. And drives stall. Not having a running game that can be depended on doesnt help, either. You dont want to be too hard on a Chargers team that covered the spread at Lambeau and was in there with a shot late, but their inability to get the big play when needed is truly an organizational issue that goes back years and years.
Defensively, the Chargers were picked apart early by the Packers, but were fairly stiff for the remainder of the game, holding the Packers to a touchdown and two field goals over the final three quarters of play. Theyre getting some nice pass rush from Jeremiah Attaochu and Corey Liuget and the secondary is playing well for the most part, but more clutch play and a higher propensity for making a big play would really help out. Right now, theyre just sorta there. And the injuries on both sides of the ball are almost too numerous to name. Almost half the starters are listed as questionable, though some banged-up guys could be cycling back in on Sunday.
The SD defense will need to be on its game for a rested Raiders bunch that has been able to form an identity on offense this season. When looking back to recent Raiders teams, the offense seemed almost to have no identity. Now, a nice aerial attack has begun to form with improved QB Derek Carr, along with Amari Cooper, who is probably the most exciting rookie in football and a surefire star in this league. Carr has 8 TD throws with just 3 picks. Latavius Murray is seeing his first action as a fulltime back and there have been some ups and downs. But With Cooper, Michael Crabtree, fullback Marcel Reese, and others, this passing game has some teeth. The line has done a good job in protecting Carr for the most part. This is an offense that should continue to get better.
The Oakland D has also had its rocky passages. Khalil Mack has been all over the field and old hand Charles Woodson has 4 picks in five games. Youre starting to see Aldon Smith come around in this defense. The secondary as a whole could use a little upsurge in their production, having yielded big performances to most of the quarterbacks theyve faced this season. You have to wonder how that will resonate this week against an electric SD aerial attack. The run defense has been quite good, though losing Justin Tuck for the season in their last game was a blow they could ill afford to absorb.
With first-year head coach Jack Del Rio, a revamped coaching staff, a slew of youth in critical positions, and a recent history of utter failure, its important we keep expectations in check with Oakland. Some weeks, theyre going to leave their backers scratching their heads. But with their talent, you cant summarily rule them out as you could in the past when the only question most weeks was how badly were they going to lose.
Its pretty easy to see why San Diego should winfrom a personnel standpoint, a sense of urgency point of view, and in a lot of other ways too. But you can do that nearly every week and more often than not, they under-perform, they dont come through in a pinch, and they leave innumerable points on the field. Like in this game, they should be able to complete pass after pass and win conclusively, but until they show a higher level of overall functionality, Im inclined to not take them in a spot like this. Im going with Oakland.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 4 points.
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