Chargers vs Raiders Preview & Free Pick [December 17th 2020]

LA Chargers (4-9) at Las Vegas (7-6)
When: Thursday, December 17th, 2020
Where: Allegiant Stadium,
Las Vegas, NV
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Las Vegas -3.5/55

Two struggling AFC West rivals will square off to kick off Week 15 on Thursday Night Football. The Los Angeles Chargers will visit the Las Vegas Raiders for the second time this season and the first game ended dramatically. A replay review on the last play of the game gave the Raiders a 31-26 victory. More on that later. Las Vegas still has an outside shot at making the postseason, but a loss on Thursday would surly derail their shot at the playoffs. The Raiders followed up a dramatic win at the New York Jets two weeks ago with a 44-27 setback at Allegiant Stadium to the Indianapolis Colts. They also had a streak of four straight covers, but are now 0-3 ATS in their last three contests as the defense has let them down.  After seeing his defense gashed for 200 rushing yards to the Jets and Colts, head coach Jon Gruden fired defensive line coach Paul Guenther and hired Rod Marinelli on an interim basis. The Chargers are probably playing their last games under head coach Anthony Lynn, who’s team continues to fail in late-game situations. However, L.A. did manage to come away with a late 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons last week in an ugly contest.

The Raiders are looking for their second straight season sweep of the Chargers. In Week 9, L.A. mostly dominated statistically and it appeared quarterback Justin Herbert hit tight end Donald Parham on the winning touchdown with one second left, but after review it was determined that Parham didn’t catch the ball. Herbert threw for 326 yards and two scores, while Derek Carr had two TD passes for the Raiders, who also rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The road team is 9-3 against the spread in the past 12 meetings and the Raiders lead the all-time series 65-54-2. The Raiders opened as 3-point favorites on the NFL odds with a total of 54.5.

Lynn’s coaching ability comes into question each and every week, which is why he will most likely not be around L.A. next season. The Bolts left three points on the field at the end of the first half due to horrible clock management by the coaching staff, and then Herbert was picked off in a tie game late at the Atlanta 45 with less than a minute left. However, the Los Angeles defense responded with an interception of Matt Ryan and it led to the winning 43-yard field goal by Michael Badgley. Herbert threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns with an interception on 36-of-44 completions. He’ll be going up against a Raiders defense that has allowed six passing touchdowns in the last three games. No. 2 receiver Mike Williams left with a back injury last week and probably won’t play Thursday. Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion), corner Chris Harris Jr. (foot) and linebacker Denzel Perryman (back) missed practice because of injury Tuesday.

The only Raiders victory in the last four weeks was that miracle against the Jets two weeks ago. Last week, the Colts ran over the Vegas defense for 212 yards. The Raiders rank 25th against the run (128.1), 25th against the pass (256.1) and 30th in points allowed (30.1). Also, all six of the Raiders’ penalties Sunday were against the defense. The offense got bad news when starting wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, hero of the team’s victory over the New York Jets in Week 13, was placed on the COVID-19 list Tuesday afternoon and ruled out for the game. Running back Josh Jacobs, hampered by an ankle injury in recent weeks, also was limited. Las Vegas is 14th in total offense at 369.3 yards a game. Safety Johnathan Abram (concussion), cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion), linebacker Nick Morrow (concussion) and defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) all missed practice on Tuesday, while defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) was limited. Veteran defensive end Vic Beasley was activated from the practice squad.

Both of these teams have problems, but the Raiders can’t stop anyone. Herbert should have a big game against this leaky defense. With Ruggs out and Jacobs hobbling, the Raiders offense will struggle. The road team usually covers in this series – 9-3 ATS last 12 meetings. I’ll take the points.

Pick: Chargers +3.5
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