Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers – Week 14 Thursday Night Football Picks

Oakland Raiders (3-9) +10, 42.5 O/U at San Diego Chargers (4-8)
-10, 42.5 O/U, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif., 8:15 PM Eastern,
Thursday, NFL Network

by Badger of Predictem.com

If an NFL game between two crappy, underachieving West Coast teams is telecast on an exclusive cable-only network which most fans dont get
anyway, will anyone watch it or much less care about it, especially
on the East Coast?

Well find out this week when the Oakland Raiders travel down the coast to take on their longtime AFC West rival San Diego Chargers on
a special Thursday Night primetime game shown on the NFL Network.

The Chargers, who were the trendy pick to win the AFC this season
after nearly toppling the New England Patriots in last years
playoffs, have fallen flat on their face this year. They enter
Thursdays game in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and
losers of five of their last six, including last weeks 22-16 debacle
at home to Atlanta. But believe it or not, they do still have a
mathematical shot at winning the AFC West if they win out the rest of
the season.


What can we say about the Raiders this season that we havent already covered in the previous few seasons? The Raiders have won three games
this season, including a stunning 31-10 whoopin in Denver two weeks
ago, but they followed it up with a 20-13 loss at home to Kansas City
last Sunday. The change to interim head coach Tom Cable over for Lane
Kiffin hasnt done much to change the franchise from continuing to be
the laughingstock of the NFL, but a big win over the rival Chargers
could ease the pain a little.

The Las Vegas Hilton opened the game with the Chargers as modest 7.5-
point favorites late Sunday night, and within the first hour the
window was open the line shot up to its current level of minus-10
points. 5Dimes actually lists the Chargers as 11-point favorites,
so just about everyone and their brother seems to be betting on the
Raiders in this one early on.

The total opened at 43 and has stayed steady through early betting,
although most offshore sportsbooks have dropped it down a hook to
42.5. The moneyline lists the Chargers as -480 favorites, with the
Raiders as +380 underdogs.

Even with who most consider the best running back in the game today
on their sideline, LaDainian Tomlinson, its the lack of a running
game that has hurt the Chargers offense this season. San Diego ranks
26th in rushing yards per game (93.4 ypg) and LT has been largely
ineffective all year, including last week versus the Falcons where he
finished with only 24 yards on 14 carries.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game has been strong, as they
rank 9th in the NFL at 235.9 yards per game and Rivers leads the AFC
with a 100.5 quarterback rating, but a large majority of that damage
has been done when the Chargers are forced to pass to play catch up
late in the game.

On the other sideline, its the lack of solid quarterback play that is hurting the Raiders each week. JaMarcus Russell just hasnt
developed like a first-overall pick should be developing, and last
week the Raiders finished with more yards rushing (139) versus the
Chiefs than they did passing (132), which is a recipe for disaster no
matter how you slice it.

For the season the Raiders are dead last in passing yards per game
(139.2 ypg), second-to-last in points per game (14.3) and just 29th
in overall total yards with a 263.1 yards per game average.

Defensively this game will be interesting to watch because both
defenses are extremely weak in what the other teams offense has been
weak at all season. The Raiders give up 158.8 yards per game on the
ground (29th), while the Chargers get gauged in the passing game
giving up 260.6 yards a contest in the air (31st). As far as points
go, both allow virtually the same as the Raiders 22.1 per game (17th)
is only a nipple-hair better than the Chargers 22.8 (21st) points
allowed per game.

The point spread in this game shot up so quickly at the Hilton and
other books because the Chargers have literally dominated the head-to-
head series since 2003. The Chargers have not only won the last 10
meetings versus the Raiders, but all but one of those victories has
been by less than 10 points. The Chargers won their first meeting
this season 28-18 back in late September, in a game where LT ran for
a season-high 106 yards and two scores.

It isnt much better for the Raiders at the window either, as they
are just 1-10 ATS in the last 11 games in the series as well. Their
only cover during that span was the only time they lost by less than
10 points, a 21-14 loss in late November of 2006 as 13-point underdogs.

If youve bet on either of these teams this season, youve taken it
in the shorts, as the Raiders 5-7 ATS record is better than the
Chargers 4-7-1 ATS record. Both tend to play under as well, as the
Raiders are 4-8 against the total where as the Chargers are 5-7
versus the over/under bet.

The over has cashed in at the window in the last two meetings, but
that betting trends is deceiving since its the under that has gone
7-3 during the last 10 meetings.

Badgers Pick: Ive lost too much bank on the Chargers this season
to advise anything but staying away from them as far as you can get.
The Raiders have also burned me too, so Im taking the over in this
game. Both defenses are weak. LT gets healthy again against the
Chargers weak run defense and Oakland gets a token score or two
versus the weak SD pass defense. Take the over of 42.5.