It is a wide-open playoff picture in the AFC as the wildcard hunt is crowded with teams still within striking distance. Two of those, the (4-4) Oakland Raiders and (4-5) Los Angeles Chargers, are set to meet tonight (8:20 PM ET Thursday live on FOX) with their playoff chances likely hanging in the balance.
Entering this contest, the Chargers and Raiders sit in third and second place respectively within the AFC West, a division led by the (6-3) Kansas City Chiefs. That is a Chiefs team that is expecting the return of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has missed the past several weeks with injury. Now, it is still early enough and the deficit isn’t all that high (1.5 – two games) but the Chargers and Raiders will have to start making up the ground soon. In fact, in a lot of ways, this Thursday Night Football head-to-head functions almost as a de facto playoff game as both LA and Oakland will need the win if they hope to keep pace with Kansas City as well as in the wildcard race.
After a tough season last year, the Oakland Raiders came into 2019 hoping to make a big splash. They did just that in the form of acquiring Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers. After months of discontent and never once playing a regular season game for his new team, Brown worked his way out of Oakland. This left the Raiders in a pretty tough spot. Oakland opened the season at home against the Denver Broncos and thanks to a solid effort from Derek Carr and wide receiver Tyrell Williams, they were able to pick up a win. The Raiders went on to lose a tough contest against the Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings in consecutive weeks before getting back in the win column in week four against the Indianapolis Colts.
Against the Chicago Bears in week five, the Raiders picked up their third victory in large part due to Josh Jacobs’ first 100+ yard game of the year. It was his first of three in the next four weeks as Oakland’s rookie rusher has finally caught fire. That is good news for the Raiders, who are 2-1 when Jacobs eclipses the 100-yard mark. It should be worth noting as well, that when Jacobs has topped 100 yards this year, Carr has had his best outings of the year as well, totaling nearly 300 yards in each of his last three games.
The Raiders struggled a bit at the beginning of the season but if Carr and Jacobs are clicking, it only means good things for Oakland. Against the Chargers, they will need to keep up that level of performance as LA, despite its record, has a pretty strong team itself. Much like the Raiders, they have been starting to heat up lately.
Looking to return to the playoffs after their 12-win season a year prior, the Los Angeles Chargers needed more than four quarters to dispatch of the Colts in week one. After an overtime victory, the Chargers suffered back-to-back losses to the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans before picking up an easy win over the winless Miami Dolphins. Three more losses followed as the Chargers dropped three consecutive but winnable games against the Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.
Continuing their road trip, the Chargers headed to Chicago for a showdown with the Chicago Bears. The team ground out a close one-point victory in a contest that came down to defense as neither Philip Rivers nor Melvin Gordon had particularly strong games. For Gordon, it was just his fourth game of the season after he sat out earlier in the year. As one of the league’s best backs in 2018, Gordon is still working his way back into form. While he has yet to top the 100-yard mark this year, the Chargers needed every bit of Gordon’s 80 yards last week against the Green Bay Packers.
It was a game the Chargers really needed to win. The Packers had just one loss on the year prior to their road game in LA and they were heavy favorites with the offshore, America-friendly sports betting sites. The Chargers played a fantastic contest, one much more akin to how they performed last year than that of this year’s early struggles. It was Gordon’s best game of the season and one of Rivers’ best as well. Once again, it was really the defense that held up their end, limiting Aaron Rogers in his MVP-esque season, to just 161 passing yards and their run game to 45 yards. The formula led to success for LA, and certainly left an instilled confidence with the Chargers in advance of this divisional showdown.
Our Preview’s LA Chargers vs Oakland Raiders Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
There are some pretty big NFL games on the schedule this week but in some ways, today’s Thursday night opener between the Chargers and Raiders could hold the most importance. That’s because the winner of this game will likely go on to have a great shot at making the playoffs in the AFC while the loser will mostly likely end up going home with nothing except dashed postseason hopes. For the Raiders, missing the playoffs would sting but wouldn’t be as devastating for the Chargers, whose season has been pretty disappointing after the expectations last year’s results created.
In addition, this is expected to be the closest game of the week as the spread is listed as just 1 or 1.5 points in favor of the Chargers, despite them being on the road. Coming off that Green Bay victory, the Chargers look really good and poised to go on a late season run toward the playoffs. They have a tough schedule coming up, with two remaining against the Chiefs, but that could be a positive for LA as winning the AFC West is not out of the question.
- So when it comes to our LA Chargers vs Oakland Raiders predictions, look for the Chargers to top the spread in their third win in a row. We advise LA -1pt @ best odds for that spread of -115 with Intertops. Alternatively, Bovada go -1.5pts @ -110.
- Take the under 49 total points to be scored @ -110 with Intertops or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.