TNF Picks: Chargers vs. Raiders

by | Dec 14, 2020 | nfl

Los Angeles Chargers (4-9 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Week 15 NFL

Date/Time: Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 8:20PM EST

Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

TV: Fox/NFL

Point Spread: LAC +3/LV -3 (Get the best odds - Why lay -110 odds when you could be laying only -105? It’s the wise way to bet on games!)

Over/Under Total: 54

The Los Angeles Chargers come out to the desert to play the Las Vegas Raiders in AFC West action on Thursday Night Football. While it is the Raiders who still have hope in this season, it was the Chargers who come off a better weekend, scoring a last-second win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, 20-17. For a team that has blown it late so many times this season, it was nice for them to see it finally go their way. The Raiders are really in need of a win after falling to 7-6 with a bad 44-27 loss to the Colts on Sunday. Who can bring home the cover on Thursday?

Chapter One

On November 8, the Raiders levied a 31-26 win over the Chargers at SoFi Stadium. That would seem to line up well for an even bigger win at home this week. Then again, this was before the Raiders started stinking it up on a regular basis. Derek Carr was efficient, and they ran the ball well. Meanwhile, the Chargers couldn’t really take advantage of a big day from Justin Herbert and success on the ground. They have Austin Ekeler for this one, are coming off a win, and catch a version of the Raiders that aren’t able to respond to the urgency of their situation.

Have the Raiders Burned Out?

Just to sum up their recent woes, they’ve dropped three of four, with their only win a miracle comeback-win over the winless Jets. A close loss to Kansas City is one thing, but to get smacked up by Indy and especially Atlanta just as your season comes to this crescendo-point is really going to be a hard thing to overcome. At one point, a contender with some upside, particularly after beating the Chiefs, they are now a team where it’s hard to find a route back to that point.

At times this season, the Raiders’ defense was showing signs of elevating, with no follow-through. What we have now is a “D” that is pretty porous across all areas. That’s bad enough, but when you add in this element of almost zero playmaking, it really makes it untenable. That led to the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, with Rob Marinelli now filling in on an interim basis. It’s just hard to make it work with a defense that is frequently just out there taking up space. On Sunday, they couldn’t bring any heat to a banged-up Philip Rivers while making Colts RB Jonathan Taylor look like Jim Brown. And with three more starters leaving the game on Sunday, it’s not the most promising situation.

Derek Carr is a good quarterback. Joshua Jacobs is a fine running back. The Raiders have abundant pass-catching talent with one of the best tight ends and a slew of dangerous receivers. So then why are they making such a small impact at this critical juncture of the season? With all that, they should be more than a middling offense. I suppose that three weeks ago, not many were saying this, with the Raiders sitting pretty. So maybe a bad three-week window isn’t enough to indict a team. What they have is enough to give the Chargers trouble, and they’ve already done it this season.

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Chargers Tough to Back

It all worked out last week against the Falcons, as their defense held up well, and they finally saw the late-game action break their way for a change. But whatever problems the Raiders are having, the Chargers have it worse. It’s really getting ugly with the comedy of errors, and on Sunday, they couldn’t even get a FG attempt off after more game-mismanagement. And bizarre play-calling late almost spoiled their late-game efforts. They’re lucky it didn’t cost them. You see Justin Herbert complete 36 passes, Ekeler runs for 79 and catches nine balls, and they still need a Matt Ryan pick late to get into FG position to score 20 points.

The thing is that it could be so much more. Sure, the O-line is banged up, but whose isn’t? Herbert has been putting up big numbers. They have good receivers, a good tight end, and talent at running back. And so often, they’re groping for points. It’s hard to understand. They’ve scored 37 points in the last three games. That 45-0 loss to the Patriots two weeks back still lingers as a big stink-bomb and a reminder to potential backers how ugly this can get with a Chargers’ team that should be at least experiencing some success on the offensive side of the ball.

Kudos to the Chargers’ defense for a far better effort on Sunday. After an early score by Atlanta, it looked like it would be another long day for the Chargers. But they got it together well and prevented some big plays from a still-vital Atlanta passing-game. Michael Davis, Jahleel Addae, and Rayshawn Jenkins all had picks, and the pass-rush was making a difference. Injuries have really rendered this side of the ball a shadow of what it could have been, but their pass defense has been able to hold steady and is actually a team-strength, as Carr found out the first time these teams played.

Take the Home Team

Something about the Raiders seems broken, so this stance might run counter to what we’ve all seen take place the past month. But at home against a team they’ve beaten already, I do expect the Raiders to get it together—at least a little bit. After all, they’re still in this. I’m just not sure what a 4-win Chargers’ team that is still shooting itself in the foot on a regular basis, two weeks removed from its worst-ever franchise loss, can do about all this. I’ll take the Raiders with some due trepidation.

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