With the regular season coming to a close in yet another NFL year, you can definitely get your fair share of meaningless games. Thursday night’s contest between the Chargers and Raiders definitely falls under that category, but can certainly serve as a necessary reprieve from all of the stresses that come with the holiday season. With not much else on sports-wise, this contest should be watched by many, especially with the fantasy football championships going on this week. San Diego enters this contest playing much better football of late, and definitely playing a whole lot better than when they ran into Oakland earlier this season. The Chargers trounced the Dolphins in Week 15 and will be looking to exact some revenge on their in-state rivals on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, it’s been quite the season in Oakland. They’ve done better than expected on both sides of the football, and it is finally clear that this franchise is going in the right direction. They dropped a tough defeat last week to an improved Packers squad, but will be looking to close out their home slate on a high note. With all the rumours surrounding franchises potentially moving to Los Angeles, there is also some chatter this could be the final game in Oakland. Unlikely, but this does make for yet another intriguing angle for the Christmas Eve showdown. It’s the Chargers and the Raiders in this all-AFC West match-up – read on below for a full game breakdown and the first official selection of Week 16!
Chargers vs. Raiders Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers +6 (-105)
@ Oakland Raiders -6 (-115)
Over 47 (-110)
Under 47 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Raiders Pick:
For all of the goodwill surrounding the Raiders and their good young quarterback, Derek Carr, that narrative has gone sideways over the past few weeks. Carr has definitely had a very good 2015 and much of Oakland’s success can be attributed to the youngster, but in his past three contests, Carr has thrown five interceptions while completing just 52% of his passes. That’s simply not good enough and it hasn’t been for Oakland of late. The Raiders have had some issues with injuries on their offensive line which have only complicated matters. Austin Howard was just put on the I.R. prior to this game, which could put even more pressure on Carr. And while the Chargers do not boast an elite pass rush, they have been excellent of late on limiting success through the passing game. Eric Weddle is an safety, and he’s been great of late – especially now that he seems fully healthy. If Carr continues with his recent form, it’ll be tough for the Raiders to move the ball through the air – even with their great receiving talents.
On the other side of the ball, it’s been a wildly inconsistent year for Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense. San Diego has had games where the look amazing, and others where they look like they’d get thrashed by a college team. Much of that can be attributed to the fact that the Chargers have had a ton of injuries at wide receiver this season, and even though that’s a unit that is still depleted – they’ve got enough pieces to be very competitive against the Raiders’ defense. Oakland has been particularly awful at covering the tight end position this season. Antonio Gates is due for a huge contest and should be good for at least a touchdown tonight. Oakland also boasts very minimal depth within their secondary, and Rivers should be able to spread the ball around and mix between short dump-offs to Danny Woodhead and throwing the ball downfield to the likes of Dontrelle Inman, and potentially Stevie Johnson.
This spread is simply too high. Despite the fact that nothing is really on the line for either of these teams, I cannot foresee the Chargers just lying down and letting their divisional rivals trample them on national television. Rivers is too proud and too much of a competitor to allow that, and truth be told, this Chargers squad has played better than their record in 2015. While I think the Raiders will do enough to get the outright victory, this spread shouldn’t be more than a field-goal. Go with the value and take the points for the final Thursday night game of 2015.
PICK = Chargers +6 (-105)