The Oakland Raiders are hanging on by a thread for a playoff spot. Do they take a step in the right direction this week, or is this the moment they end their season?
With only two games left in the regular season, the Oakland Raiders travel southward to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in a rematch of an emotional home victory in primetime for the Raiders.
Things have certainly changed for the worse in the case of the Raiders since the last time these two teams met, mainly, the fact that the Raiders are 1-4 since that meeting.
But does that deserve a 7.5 point spread in favor of the Chargers who are 1-3 themselves since that same matchup?
That’s a lot of faith being placed in the hands of Philip Rivers who’s become a turnover machine one notch below Jameis Winston and the Chargers who just got blown out at home 39-10 by the Minnesota Vikings.
But here’s the thing, this time around, I actually think the Chargers are the better team than the Raiders, as opposed to way back when these two teams met and I thought the Raiders were the better team.
I still picked the Bolts in that first game and was obviously wrong. But I’m going to be stubborn and go right back to that well and roll with the Chargers 33-24 to actually cover that big spread.
As underwhelming as the Bolts have been this year, they’re now healthier than they’ve ever been on defense. I know, I know, last week they got ramrodded at home by a Vikings team that was without Dalvin Cook.
But that’s all the reason more to go with them this time around.
Typically, in picking games, I like to look at well-coached teams. And there are two scenarios that I love for such teams. One is a well-coached team coming out of a bye because usually, they have sound records in that comeback game.
Second, well-coached teams that just got blown out/embarrassed, especially at home, are very likely to bounce back the following week. The Chargers fit that mold here, and the fact that the Raiders haven’t been all that great this last month just makes me feel that much better about it.
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Will the Chargers cover? That’s a risky play to lay the 7.5 points considering the Chargers aren’t that much better than the Raiders right now and the Raiders did win this matchup last time.
But I’m willing to take that shot here because of how easily I think Rivers will be able to march his offense down the field and score on this Raiders defense that has had trouble all year trying to stop teams.
One big stat to consider — the Raiders are 29th in third-down stoppage with a 44.9% success rate of opposing offense against them on third-down.
And in the case of the Chargers, they aren’t much better at 43.3 percent in that same category, but now they’re full-on defense with the return of Derwin James, Michael Davis, and Adrian Phillips in the secondary in recent weeks.
I think LA is able to get out to a good enough lead here and hold Derek Carr and the struggling Raider offense to a 9-point loss margin ultimately.