Against the Spread Pick
Thursday Night Football here as the Oakland Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams are coming off much-needed wins, and are jostling for position in a crowded AFC wildcard race. For a few reasons, I think the Chargers will come away with their third straight victory. Every year the Chargers seem to start slow before turning things on, and they’re peaking at the right time. After they fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and replaced him with Shane Steichen, the unit made an immediate jump. It looked nearly flawless against the Packers last week, dismantling them by a final score of 26-11. The game was even more of a blowout than the final score indicates, and the Chargers dominated one of the league’s best teams on both sides of the ball. Conversely, the Raiders escaped with a narrow last-second victory over the Lions, which ended with Detroit throwing an incomplete pass at Oakland’s 1-yard line. Philip Rivers looked the best he has all season, and he should have a lot of success here against the sieve of a Raiders secondary. The Chargers finally got the running game going last week and if that continues they have the potential to be one of the league’s best teams as they continue to get healthier.
Over Under Pick
The under also make some sense in this spot. These are two bitter rivals playing in Oakland for the last time, and I expect this to be a hard-fought game. The Chargers are recommitting to their ground game, which should keep the clock moving and limit the number of possessions in this one. Los Angeles wasn’t great in the red-zone last week, which could limit their ability to put up a huge total here. The Raiders have faced weak defenses the past couple of weeks, and I think they’re going to get exposed now with a tougher test. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are one of the best pass-rushing duos in the entire league, and they should make life miserable for Derek Carr.