(5-6, 6-5 ATS)
San Diego Chargers
(6-5, 6-5 ATS)
If the Oakland Raiders have any chance of winning the AFC West this year, they are absolutely going to need to win this duel. However, the San Diego Chargers have won five in a row, and they are going to be a tough team to beat at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Raiders have a major issue right now offensively, as they really still don’t have a quarterback to turn to. The eye test suggests that QB Jason Campbell has been the better of the two signal callers, but QB Bruce Gradkowski is most likely going to be the man that Head Coach Tom Cable wants to stick with. However, Gradkowski is on IR now with a separated shoulder, and Campbell will be left to deal with the Chargers and the rest of the teams on the schedule for the silver and black. That probably means more work out of RB Darren McFadden. “Run DMC” has already rumbled for 773 yards and four scores this year, but it has been quite some time since he has had a fantastic game. Watch out for RB Michael Bush as well. Bush has run for 358 yards and four TDs to boot. No one on the team has more than 37 catches and none have even 500 yards through the air, but the more disturbing stat of that nature is that there isn’t a player on the team with more than one INT. However, three players have at least five sacks and seven have at least three sacks.
QB Philip Rivers is certainly an MVP candidate this year, and he might be well on his way to break all sorts of records, especially if the running game just doesn’t keep things together as they have not this year. Rivers has already thrown for 3,362 yards and 23 TDs, putting him on a pace to throw for just under 4,900 yards. This could be the first time this year that we see WR Vincent Jackson, as he is finally back after serving his suspension and after reporting to training camp. If he can contribute anything to this offense, it will be welcome for a team that has dealt with a ton of injuries. The only still player of note that has played in all 11 games this year is RB Michael Tolbert. TE Antonio Gates has 44 catches for 709 yards and nine TDs in what should be another Pro Bowl season. However, there isn’t a legitimate wide receiver that has more than 28 catches on the season, something that is amazing for a passing game that is averaging over 300 yards per game.
The Oakland defense should be a heck of a lot better than this, but this isn’t the week for this unit to really step up for the first time. The Chargers are going to be well in front in this one from the get go, and they should have no problem beating the NFL betting lines in this one even though this is a lofty, lofty number.
Pro Football Free Pick: San Diego Chargers -13