San Diego Chargers (1-3) at Oakland Raiders (3-1)
Going into the season, I had the Chargers on my underrated list. They went 4-12 in 2015, but that was largely a result of bad injury luck and a poor record in close games (3-9 in games decided by 8 points or fewer). Both of those things tend to even out in the long run, which is why I expected significantly more wins for them this season, but they haven’t evened out so far for the Chargers. The Chargers are legitimately a few plays away from being 4-0, but blew late leads to Kansas City, Indianapolis, and New Orleans. Meanwhile, they’ve also lost top wide receiver Keenan Allen, talented passing down back Danny Woodhead, slot wide receiver Steve Johnson, and top cornerback Jason Verrett for the season with injuries. Verrett is their newest loss and he’s as big of a loss to this defense as Allen is to this offense, as the 2014 1st round pick has become one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
The Chargers record in close games should still even out in the long run and they should still win more games than they did last season, but there’s no denying the amount of talent the Chargers are missing with injury. Tight end Antonio Gates is expected back from a 2-game absence, while #3 overall pick Joey Bosa will be making his NFL debut after missing the first 4 games with hamstring problems, but the Chargers will also be without cornerback Brandon Flowers. The Raiders were also on my underrated list before the season started and they’ve delivered so far, starting 3-1. It’s tough to tell exactly how good they are as their first 4 games have decided by a combined 16 points, but I still think they have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. This line is way too low at 3.5, so I’m going with the Raiders.
Oakland Raiders 27 San Diego Chargers 20
Pick against the spread: Oakland -3.5