San Diego Chargers (4-10 SU, 6-8 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (6-8 SU, 7-7 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 8:25PM EST
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +5/OAK -5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
On Thursday Night Football at O.co Coliseum, the San Diego Chargers face the Oakland Raiders in an AFC West battle. Neither of these teams is still in playoff contention, but this nevertheless represents an interesting betting quandary. In what may have been the last game in San Diego for the Chargers, they smashed the Miami Dolphins, 30-14. The win brought their mark to 4-10, with two wins in their last four games. This season has been terrible for the Chargers on so many different levels, but they still have some fighting spirit and look to take that into Oakland on Thursday. The Raiders lost to the Packers at home on Sunday, 30-20, in what was another letdown where their defense again betrayed them late. But they have enjoyed a nice turnaround season in 2015 and look to finish strongly.
As division rivals in weeks 16, these teams have already played, with the Raiders beating the Chargers, 37-29. Dont let that score fool you, as it was a thorough victory for Oakland, one they led 30-3 in the second quarter. The Chargers scored some late TDs to make it look better than it was, but the Raiders really mauled them at home. Both Latavius Murray and Derek Carr had good games for the Raiders and the defense held San Diego to very little early, with San Diego not getting untracked until it was too late. That game was on October 25 and a lot has changed in the last two months.
Some people have been hard on the Raiders for going 2-5 in their last 7 games after being 4-3 after 7 games. But this was a team that really looked a year away and theyve fulfilled that for the most part. Itd be nice for them to get another win or two to lend some more credence to their rebuilding effort, but they have still come a long way in many respects. An offense that was muddling around has forged a clear path. Derek Carr has enjoyed a fine sophomore season, firmly establishing himself as Oaklands long-tern answer at quarterback. Latavius Murray will go over 1000 yards in this game. Amari Cooper has cemented himself as one of the fine young receivers in the NFL, with Michael Crabtree at the very least a very serviceable number-two receiver.
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The Oakland defense has the ability to make some plays. Khali Mack is on top of the pile with 15 sacks on the season. But they are very dicey against the opposing aerial attack. And they havent come around like the offense. The offense has started developing an element of clutch, but the defense lags behind. Their late-game leakiness has cost the Raiders big-time this season. Against the Packers on Sunday, the Raiders bounced back from a 14-0 Packers lead to take the lead in the second half, before the defense gave up two touchdowns to spoil Oaklands comeback bid.
San Diego is coming off a game where it was more than just win over Miami. It could be the last time the Chargers play in San Diego. Its something fans have been mentally sweeping under the rug, but you could see it resonating on Sunday in an emotional game for San Diego. They now come off of that to face a team on the road that really laid it to them 2 months ago. And they will be doing it on the short week, to boot.
The Chargers season has been a disastertheres no other way to cut it. Theyve won 2 out of 4 games, offering some mild promise coming down the stretch. But injuries have rendered them a shadow of themselves and it never seems to get better. Their offensive playmakers are stripped dry and the D is experiencing its share of issues, as well. But they still scored 30 points on Sunday and held Miami to almost nothing until the game was already a lost cause for the Fins.
On Sunday, one of San Diegos lone remaining playmakers Danny Woodhead scored 4 touchdowns. Antonio Gates can still get it done and they got a nice spurt from Donald Brown, who stepped in for injured Melvin Gordon and picked up 90 yards on the ground. For the Chargers, the 30 points they scored on Sunday was a breath of fresh air, especially after some particularly anemic performances in recent weeks. This offense isnt even a shadow of what it would be with all their key players in there or if their offensive line werent in shambles. But Philip Rivers is making the best of a bad situation an went over 4000 yards passing on Sunday.
San Diego had a rare game on Sunday, with the defense delivering on a large stream of positive plays. They rushed Ryan Tannehill heavily and were generally very stout until late in the game. Jeremiah Attaochu was getting after Tannehill, while slowly-developing star Melvin Ingram had two sacks. As this unit starts to get some guys back, we see a lot of young players coming around, like corner Jason Verrett, Manti Teo, rookie Denzel Perryman, and others. All those high draft picks are starting to pay off and one wonders how good they could have been if not getting so snake-bitten by the injury bug.
The Chargers benefitted from being buoyed by the emotion of the game on Sunday, in addition to facing a Dolphins team that has laid multiple eggs this season. They arent likely to find such a cushy situation this week. The Raiders havent been in fine form in recent weeks, but at home and in a divisional game, it seems like a good time for them to get back on the right track. I sense a Raiders win and cover on Thursday over a deflated Chargers team.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders minus 5 points.
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