The last two teams kick off their 2012 NFL betting campaign on ESPN’s Monday Night Football in the later of the two starts this week, as the San Diego Chargers duke it out with the Oakland Raiders.
San Diego is going to have a tough time in its backfield this week. RB Curtis Brinkley is hurting, and though that isn’t normally a problem, it becomes a huge one when RB Ryan Mathews is out as well. Mathews’ clavicle injury is probably healed enough for him to play, but he probably won’t be out there, leaving RB Ronnie Brown to do the work in all likelihood. That means that QB Philip Rivers is probably going to have to put the ball in the air a solid 40 times against a defense that generally has one of the better secondaries in the league. That too, would be all fine and dandy, but we aren’t so sure that Rivers is going to have the ability to get the job done now that his favorite receiver, WR Vincent Jackson is playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is where we are going to see if WR Robert Meachem really has the ability to be a top flight receiver in this league or not, and it starts right away on Monday night.
The Raiders are one of the big time question mark teams this year in the NFL. They are going to have their quarterback, Carson Palmer for the full year with a full offseason of preparation, and that can only help out a unit that struggled at times offensively in 2011. RB Darren McFadden is set to wreak havoc on opposing defenses once again, and without his handcuff, RB Michael Bush in the fold, Run DMC is going to have to stay healthy this year to keep the ground attack moving. The offensive line for Oakland is one of the more underrated in football, and Head Coach Eric Allen is going to bring a new level of intensity for this defense. There are a ton of injuries at wide receiver of note though, as Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner, and Denarius Moore are all hurting. Moore could be back in the lineup by the time this one kicks off, but his hamstring could prove to be nagging.
Last year, it was San Diego that kept Oakland out of the playoffs, and we think that it is high time for the Raiders to get some revenge. That being said though, we look at both of these teams and see all of the injuries to key players on the offensive side of the ball, and we have to think that the ‘under’ is the better of the two plays. Yes, these teams always seem to be involved in shootouts, but this early in the campaign, with this many questions hovering over both teams, the ‘under’ is the safer play against a relatively high ‘total’. Oakland 23 – San Diego 17