L.A. Chargers (4-9 6-7 ATS) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-6 7-6 ATS)
On Thursday night in Las Vegas, the Chargers face the Raiders, who are fighting for their playoff lives. The Raiders are a 3.5-point home favorite with the total sitting at 53.
While the total has moved from 55 to 53 since opening the spread has not changed.
The Chargers have been eliminated from the playoff picture but they did snap their two-game skid with a comeback win in their last game. They can only put a hurt on the playoff hopes of the Raiders, who they lost at home to 31-26 earlier this season.
The Raiders have hit the skids as of late losing three of their last four games. They lost to the Indianapolis Colts 44-26 in their last game where after they fired the defensive coordinator. Not surprising since Las Vegas ranks third to last giving up 30.1 ppg and in their last four games have given up an average of 37.5 ppg.
The Chargers only have four wins but they have their QB of the future in Justin Herbert. The frontrunner for rookie of the year has put up solid numbers and while L.A. ranks fourth in passing yards per game they only rank 27th in ppg.
The Raiders have a solid and balanced offense but their defense is the reason for their recent skid. At 7-6, they are currently on the outside looking in for the playoffs and they need to finish strong and may need some help to make the post-season.
The road team has covered the spread in nine of the last 12 games between these AFC West rivals.
Finally Winning a Close One
The Chargers have been in many games this season but have lost many close ones but finally won a close one in their last game in a 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Their D has been an issue on the season but they played well on that side of the ball in the game forcing three turnovers and holding Atlanta to 70 rushing yards.
Herbert has 25 TD and 10 INT on the season and in the win over the Falcons, he was 36-44 for 243 yards with two TD and one INT. He has to avoid the pick and he has four of them, to go with three TD, in his last three games.
Keenen Allen leads a good WR corps and they need another good game from RB Austin Ekler, who rushed for 79 yards averaging 5.3 yards per carry and had 67 receiving yards in the win over Atlanta.
The Raiders’ defense has been torched as of late and in their last game they gave up 212 rushing yards.
New Guy at the Helm
Rod Marinelli is the interim defensive coordinator and he has to right the ship quick for the sinking Raiders to make the playoffs.
In Las Vegas’ last game they lost to the Indianapolis Colts 44-27 where they gave up 456 yards and were lit up on the ground.
Derek Carr has enjoyed a solid season ranking eighth in the league in QB, but he was picked twice in the last game and has four INT in his last three games. In the seven wins by the Raiders, he only has two picks.
Josh Jacobs has the eighth-most rushing yards in the NFL but he has struggled as of late. In his last three games, he averaged 43.7 rushing yards per game and failed to average over four yards per carry in any of those games.
The run defense has been the weakness of the Chargers on the season even though their run D played well in the last game. The pass rush has also had issues this season with only 23 sacks in 13 games and sack leader Joey Bosa (7.5 sacks) has not had one in the last two games after going for three in one game.
The Chargers are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight games facing a team with a winning record. The Raiders have covered the spread in their last six games facing teams from the AFC West.
Can the Raiders turn around their defense? That is the big question in this game. I think they will have issues on D again but their offense will get it done against L.A. as they did beating them earlier this season. Look for a Thursday primetime shooting in this division contest and while the game will be close Vegas will get the win and cover and keep their playoff hopes alive.
PICK: Raiders -3.5