Oakland at San Diego - Still a Betting Opportunity

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by - 12/4/2008 5:25 PM Share

The Chargers have dropped four games in the last 24 seconds by a combined seven points and are probably better than their 4-8 record shows. With that said this is nowhere near the same team that played for the AFC title a year ago and came into 2008 as a heavy favorite to repeat as champion of a lackluster West division. With December upon us, San Diego's (4-8, 5-7 ATS) margin for error is gone. It can't afford to lose another game if it's going to be lucky enough to overtake Denver for first place and return to the playoffs. For head coach Norv Turner's troops, the Broncos are merely 7-5 themselves and decimated on the defensive side of the ball. The teams meet Dec. 28 at Qualcomm Stadium in a game that'll only be meaningful if the Chargers take care of business between now and then, and that means beating Oakland on Thursday night.

The Raiders (3-9, 5-7 ATS), who bring the 30th ranked scoring offense down the California coast at 14.3 points per game, did San Diego a favor a few weeks ago by exploding for 31 points in a surprising blowout of Denver. Any chance of a winning streak was ended by Kansas City last week, but the Silver & Black would like nothing more than to play the role of spoiler, though a 17-38 ATS record in December games might suggest otherwise.

The Chargers rallied to topple Oakland in Week 4, 28-18, behind LaDainian Tomlinson's best performance of what's been a puzzling season for the seven-time 1,200-yard rusher. Tomlinson rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-sealing 41-yard scamper with 1:04 remaining to cap a 25-point fourth quarter. It's one of only six games he's scored in this season. The Raiders let a 15-0 halftime lead get away. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell stood out in completing 22 of 37 attempts for 277 yards and one score with an interception.

After Oakland blew what seemed like a sure victory for a second week in a row, owner Al Davis had enough of Lane Kiffin and replaced him with Tom Cable. Under Cable's watch the Raiders have won two of eight games, and they happen to be against division leaders Denver and the New York Jets. Go figure.

Still, in looking at the standings of the AFC West, you can't help but be struck by the fact the San Diego Chargers are only one game ahead of Oakland. A Raiders upset win would mean these division rivals would be tied and that seemed as likely back in August as Hillary Clinton to be named the Secretary of State for president elect Obama Barack. Go figure.

Bookmaker.com has the Chargers as 9.5-point favorites with a total of 41.5. Oakland has lost 10 in a row in the Bolts, covering the spread once, losing by an average score of 14.9 points per game. In fact, the last the Raiders won in San Diego, Lady Marmalade by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink was one of biggest hits that year (2001). Another win by the Chargers would be a new benchmark in this series, as no team has ever beaten the other 11 straight.

If keeping the seat warm coach Cable would be willing to run a fake field with Sebastian Janikowski having to run about 20 total yards for a first down, why wouldn't the No Pride and Lots of Noise team in the white uniforms throw caution to the wind and let the league's worst passing offense go after the NFL's 31st ranked pass defense. As we all know, it's the Raiders and they are 8-22 ATS in road games vs. poor passing defenses allowing a completion percentage of 61 percent or worse and will probably want to run the ball 50 times. Go figure.

Though this isn't the same Chargers team of the past few years, they are 9-1 ATS as a home favorite of 7.5 to 10 points since 2006. Besides a couple of football clich├ęs are good reading by bad teams. "A lot of people around the league probably think we are going to pack it in and give up. But we won't," L.T. said after losing to Atlanta.

Phillip Rivers was trying to be positive and caught himself. "We've got to win them all and they've got to lose three of four," Rivers said. "Can it happen? Sure, but we haven't shown the ability to be able to win four in a row."

"Even though we were 3-8, we were still thinking that there was a chance that we could get to the playoffs," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said after losing to Kansas City. "It hurts us because now it's pretty much out of the way. So, we just got to keep playing and, hopefully, get some more wins before the season's over." About the only thing the Raiders should be thinking about is avoiding a select list of horrible teams. They must win out to avoid becoming the third team in NFL history to suffer at least 10 losses in six consecutive seasons - Tampa Bay (1983-94) and Detroit (2001-06) previously did it.

The NFL Network will broadcast this AFC West matchup at 8:15 Eastern, with West Coast football fanatics stuck in traffic jams at game time. Go figure.

StatFox Forecaster - San Diego covers
StatFox Power Line - San Diego by 15
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By: Staff Writer - StatFox

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