San Diego Chargers (0-0) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-0), Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, Monday, September 14th, 10:15PM Eastern, ESPN
By Zman of Predictem.com
Point Spread: San Diego -9 1/2
A pair of the original AFL franchises kick off a 50th-anniversary season with a Monday night matchup when the three-time defending AFC West champion San Diego Chargers pay a visit to their old friends to the north, the Oakland Raiders.
San Diego, now in its third season under head coach Norv Turner (19-13 straight up, 18-13-1 against the spread), is coming off a topsy-turvy 2008 that saw them lose LB Shawne Merriman after one game, and thanks to a series of tough, close losses, start 4-8. But the Chargers rallied to win their last four games, and thanks to Denver’s collapse, San Diego won the West. The Bolts then upset the Colts in a Wild Card game before falling in Pittsburgh in an AFC divisional-round bout.
On the other sidelines, Oakland won its last two games last year to finish at 5-11, which, as pathetic as this sounds, was their best record in five seasons. After Tom Cable took over as head coach following the firing of Lane Kiffin last year, the Raiders went 4-8 SU and 5-7 ATS.
The Chargers have beaten the Raiders 11 times in a row. Last year San Diego swept the two games vs. their division rivals by scores of 28-18 and 34-7. But in that first game last year the Chargers had to rally from a 15-3 fourth-quarter deficit to take a late 21-18 lead, then covered the spread as nine-point road favorites when RB LaDainian Tomlinson iced the game with a 41-yard TD run with a minute to go.
The Bolts outgained Oakland by 90 yards per game last year, and almost all of that extra yardage came on the ground, as San Diego rushed for 299 yards in the two games combined, the Raiders just 126.
Oakland went 7-9 ATS last season, and just 2-5 vs. the numbers as home dogs. The Chargers went 7-8-1 ATS last year, and only 1-3 vs. the spreads as favorites on the road.
The totals went 6-9-1 in Raiders games last year, which averaged 41 points per, while the O/Us went 8-7-1 in Chargers games, which averaged 49 points.
In fourth-year starter Philip Rivers, San Diego has the quarterback who led the NFL in passing rating last year, by a comfortable margin, at 105.5, with a 34/11 TD/INT ratio. In the other offensive huddle, Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell put up a 77.1 QB rating with 13 TDs and eight INTs in what was basically his rookie year last season.
For what it’s worth, the Chargers went 2-2 straight up and 2-1-1 vs. the pointspreads during the just-completed exhibition season, beating the Cardinals and 49ers and losing to the Seahawks and Falcons. The Raiders, meanwhile, went 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS this pre-season, beating the Cowboys but losing to the Niners, Saints (45-7 in week 3) and Seahawks.
As of Wednesday most sportsbooks around the Internet were listing San Diego at around -450 to win the AFC West again this season, +550 to win the AFC championship and +1,000 to win Super Bowl 44 down in Miami in February. The Chargers have also been pegged with a regular-season wins over/under of 10.
Oakland is getting right around +800 to win the AFC West this season, +4,500 to win the AFC and upwards of 150/1 to win the Super Bowl. And the Raiders season win total sits at 5 . (See NFL Season Wins Over/Under)