San Diego Chargers (4-10) at Oakland Raiders (6-8)
The Chargers are just 4-10, one of the worst records in the NFL, but rank 12th in rate of moving the chains differential. How can that be? Well, their record is largely the result of a 3-6 record in games decided by a touchdown (3-7 in games decided by 8 points or fewer), a -8 turnover margin, a -5 return touchdown margin, a -6.6 yards per kickoff return margin, and a -2.8 net punt margin. On the season, they’ve actually outgained their opponents by 282 yards.
None of those things suggests anything deeply wrong with this team, but rather that they have the framework of a decent team and just need to clean some things up. They’ve won the rate of moving the chains battle in 8 of 14 games and could easily be 6-8, 7-7, or even 8-6. This team reminds me a lot of the 2012 Lions, who went 4-12 that season, but then 7-9 the following year and 11-5 two years later, with essentially the same framework of the team.
The Raiders are also a solid team and also better than their record (6-8), ranking 13th in rate of moving the chains differential, but they’re not better than the Chargers by a wide margin, as this 5.5 point line suggests. They beat the Chargers earlier this year in San Diego, but the Chargers are arguably a better road team than home team, as they seemingly have no fans. As a result, their stadium has been overrun with visiting fans pretty much every game this year, meaning they essentially have to play 16 road games this season. I feel bad for the few Chargers fans who do show up because they’re going to lose their team, but the Chargers have a borderline obligation to move up to Los Angeles at this point. It’s not fair to the team to not have any true home games and it also really hurts their chances of signing key free agents, as nice as San Diego weather is.
The Chargers are just 2-6 ATS at home, including losses to Chicago, Oakland, and the Michael Vick lead Pittsburgh Steelers, but they’re 4-2 ATS on the road and one of those non-covers was a 5 point loss in Cincinnati early in the season as 3 point underdogs against a Bengals team that has turned out to be one of the best in the NFL. Just one of their road losses has come by more than a touchdown and if they can keep it close against the likes of Cincinnati, Green Bay, and Kansas City, they can certainly do so against an Oakland team that has lost to all 3 of those teams. Plus, revenge is far from uncommon in divisional matchups similar to this one, as divisional road underdogs are 56-31 ATS in a same season regular season rematch against a team they previously lost to as divisional home favorites, since 2002.
Both of these teams have tough upcoming games, as the Raiders go to Kansas City next week and the Chargers go to Denver, but it should affect the Raiders more than the Chargers. Divisional home favorites are awful before being divisional road underdogs, 22-58 ATS dating back to 2002, one of the most powerful trends there is. I don’t really like making my Pick of the Week on a Thursday game (in fact, I can’t remember a single time I’ve done this), as short rest games can be pretty unpredictable, but this has everything I look for in a Pick of the Week so I’ll pull the trigger. This should be a close game at the least and I like the Chargers to actually win straight up.
San Diego Chargers 27 Oakland Raiders 24 Upset Pick +195
Pick against the spread: San Diego +5.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week