San Diego Chargers (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-3)
When I did my top-200 players back in August, the Chargers were the only team in the NFL that only had 1 player on the list (safety Eric Weddle). Even the Jaguars (Eugene Monroe, Maurice Jones-Drew, Cecil Shorts) and the Raiders (Jared Veldheer, Lamarr Houston) had more than one. They didn’t have a single player on the offensive side of the ball. The job Head Coach Mike McCoy has done with the offense in his first season with the team is amazing.
Despite a largely replacement level supporting cast around a declining Philip Rivers, McCoy has the Chargers moving the ball at an incredible rate, moving the chains on 82% of opportunities, only behind Denver and Indianapolis. The resurgence of Philip Rivers has a ton to do with it. Rivers looks like his pre-2011 self, completing 73.9% of his passes for an average of 8.4 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, despite a lack of talent around him.
The problem is the defensive side of the ball, which has almost as little talent. They are allowing opponents to move the chains 84% of the time. Only Philadelphia is worse. The Raiders get Terrelle Pryor back this week from injury. He certainly has flaws, but he’s a dynamic playmaker capable of taking advantage of a poor defense. He’s already one of the Raiders’ top-5 players and he’ll be a significant upgrade over Matt Flynn, who didn’t even look like he belonged in the league last week, leading the Raiders’ offense to one scoring drive against one of the worst defenses in the NFL all game.
For that reason, the Raiders certainly have a chance to cover, but the Raiders’ defense isn’t very good either. I could see the Chargers throwing up 30+ in this game and forcing the Raiders’ out of their offensive game plan, forcing Pryor to become a passer more than a runner, and winning fairly convincingly. I could really go either way on this game and the fact that it got moved to 11:55 PM Eastern Time doesn’t make things easier. I’m taking the Chargers, but I’m not confident at all.
San Diego Chargers 31 Oakland Raiders 24
Pick against spread: San Diego -4.5