It has been a rather blah Thursday night schedule this season in the NFL, and it concludes this week with a matchup that means nothing in terms of the playoffs as San Diego visits Oakland. But that's not to say it has no meaning.
It's very possible that both these teams could be in Los Angeles next season as they have partnered on a plan for a joint stadium in Carson, Calif. Obviously no new stadium would be ready for a few years, but there's going to be at least one team in L.A. next season and all signs point to it being one of these two California clubs instead of the St. Louis Rams. One challenge if both the Chargers and Raiders go would be that one club would then have to switch to the NFC West for scheduling/TV purposes.
Thus, I'm fairly certain this is the last NFL game in Oakland because the Raiders are in the worst facility in the NFL and the city of Oakland isn't even really trying to build a new facility. The Raiders are the only team to share its stadium with a Major League Baseball team. So it should be an interesting night on Thursday there.
Chargers at Raiders Betting Story Lines
The Bolts (4-10) played perhaps their last game in San Diego last week and dominated the flat Miami Dolphins in a 30-14 win that wasn't that close. It was 23-0 at halftime, and Miami had less than 100 yards of offense. The Chargers held Miami to 231 total yards. Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers continued his fine season with 311 yards passing and three scores, although he was picked off twice. Danny Woodhead totaled four touchdowns, one rushing and three receiving.
The season is over, however, for running back Melvin Gordon. I was really high on him for Offensive Rookie of the Year this season after the Chargers traded up to No. 15 overall in last year's draft to take the 2014 Heisman runner-up. But for some reason, Wisconsin running backs don't fare well in the NFL (like Notre Dame quarterbacks). Gordon averaged only 3.5 yards per carry and somehow didn't get into the end zone despite 184 carries and 33 receptions. How is that possible? Gordon also fumbled six times. Yes, the offensive line has been injury-plagued and a problem all season, but that's simply a total bust rookie year. Gordon has been placed on IR with cartilage damage in his knee, but it's not overly serious. No reason to play him now.
All San Diego's win last week did was hurt the team's chances at the No. 1 overall pick. Right now it would pick No. 4 and has almost a nil chance for the top spot.
Oakland (6-8) has been eliminated from playoff contention for a 13th straight season, but this team is going to be very good soon -- if you asked me to pick an AFC West winner for next year, I might say the Raiders right now. The young team has to learn to win at home, though, as it was beaten 30-20 last week by Green Bay to drop to 2-5 in the friendly confines. But rookie receiver Amari Cooper, a future Pro Bowler, became the first Raider with a 1,000-yard season since 2005. He is the first Oakland rookie to have a 1,000-yard season and is the fourth NFL player to have a 1,000-yard receiving season at age 21 or younger. Second-year QB Derek Carr has 30 touchdown passes, joining Daryle Lamonica as the only Raiders quarterbacks with 30 in a single season. Carr is a future Pro Bowler too, and linebacker Khalil Mack will be this year as he leads the NFL with 15 sacks. Many of the pieces for a contender are already in place.
Raiders safety and lock first-ballot Hall of Famer Charles Woodson announced Monday that this would be his final season. He's on any short list for the best defensive backs of all-time. Woodson is an eight-time Pro Bowler, former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, member of the All-Decade Team (2000s) and the only player in NFL history with at least 50 picks (65, No. 5 all-time) and 20 sacks. He also has 11 INTs returned for touchdowns. This season, the 39-year-old former Heisman winner has 65 tackles and five interceptions.
San Diego lost at home to Oakland 37-29 in Week 7. It wasn't that close as the Raiders scored on their first seven possessions and led 37-6 entering the fourth. Carr had three TD passes, including a 52-yarder to Cooper. Rivers put it up 58 times and threw for 336 yards, three TDs and two picks (leading to 10 points). The Bolts did play without two of their best players in tight end Antonio Gates and safety Eric Weddle, but it wouldn't have mattered.
Chargers at Raiders Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Oakland is a 5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 47. On the moneyline, the Raiders are -235 and Chargers +195. On the alternate lines, Oakland is -5.5 (-105) and -4.5 (-115). San Diego is 6-8 against the spread (4-2 on road) and 5-9 "over/under" (2-4 on road). Oakland is 7-7 ATS (2-5 at home) and 8-4-2 O/U (5-1-1 at home).
San Diego is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 vs. teams with a losing record. The Bolts are 0-5 ATS in their past five following a win. They are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 against the AFC West. Oakland is 5-1 ATS in its past six vs. the AFC. The Raiders are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 following an ATS loss. The under is 6-1 in the Chargers' past seven vs. the AFC West. The over is 5-2 in the Raiders' last seven against the division. The Chargers are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight in Oakland.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Chargers at Raiders Betting Predictions
The Rams were impressive in their potential finale in St. Louis. The Chargers were in maybe theirs in San Diego. So obviously I'm taking Oakland here. I actually doubt it's even close. Go over the total.
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