The San Diego Chargers seem to offer a little something extra when they line up to play against the Oakland Raiders. And now that they have more life in their offense, they are going to be very difficult for those Raiders to handle when these teams meet on Sunday night at the O.co Coliseum. This game will kick off at a special time, with television provided by the NFL Network.
Because there is a playoff game between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers on Saturday night, the stadium will have to undergo some conversion, and thus the time of Sunday’s game had to be moved to 11:35 PM ET.
In the NFL odds that have been posted on this game by the people at Bookmaker.eu, the Chargers are laying points on the road, which is not a big surprise:
San Diego Chargers -5
Oakland Raiders +5
And here is Bookmaker’s total on this game:
Over 45.5 Points -110
Under 45.5 Points -110
This is a series that has gone San Diego’s way in recent years. The Chargers have won 16 of the last 19 meetings straight-up. And interestingly enough, the road team has covered the last seven meetings against the NFL pointspread. That indeed bodes well for this visitor, which has freshened up its offensive approach under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. The primary beneficiary of this is quarterback Philip Rivers, who appears to be reborn. Rivers’ passer rating is a sterling 118.8, and there is good reason for it; he is completing passes at almost a 74% rate, with eleven touchdown passes. As someone who has struggled with his turnovers in recent years, it is encouraging to Charger backers at Bookmaker.eu that he has thrown just two interceptions.
Rivers’ last game was a record-setter. Against Dallas, he completed 35 of 42 throws for 401 yards; in the process he registered the best completion percentage (83.3%) of any 400-yard passer in NFL history. He’s got targets that any team should be worried about. Tight end Antonio Gates is on pace for one of the best seasons in his storied career, as he has caught 25 passes for 364 yards. Eddie Royal has five touchdown receptions. Danny Woodhead (22 catches) has also become a very useful weapon for Rivers to use. And the Chargers are making up for the loss of wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander, who are lost with injuries.
San Diego has converted 50% of its third down opportunities, and this, plus the success of the passing game, has been surprising considering the fact that there have been multiple injury problems on the offensive line. Two starters – tackle King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart – are likely out, but good news is on the way with the probable return of guard Jeromey Clary, who was out with a clavicle injury. Do the Chargers need to run the ball? Well, it would be nice if Ryan Mathews (3.5 ypc) could help them maintain ball control, but it should be noted that San Diego (the -230 favorite in the NFL money line) swept both meetings last year despite compiling only 102 rushing yards in the two games.
Terrelle Pryor, who suffered a concussion against Denver and sat out against Washington last week, has received medical clearance to return to action. And a lot of Raider backers with Bookmaker.eu feel that the timing couldn’t be better, because Matt Flynn, in the starting role, did just enough to get himself demoted to #3 on the depth chart. Flynn tossed one interception that was returned for a touchdown, lost two fumbles, and was sacked seven times by the Redskins. Pryor, as most NFL bettors know, can make plays with his feet (he has 198 yards and averages 7.8 yards a carry), but of course, pulling it down and running with it is what got him hurt against Denver to begin with. Darren McFadden is doubtful for this game (hamstring injury), which puts more pressure on the former Ohio State signal-caller.
San Diego’s defense is somewhat pliable; the secondary is a work in progress, to be charitable, as it has intercepted only one pass. Opposition rushing attacks have chalked up 5.2 yards an attempt on the ground. Not to be outdone, Oakland’s stop unit is not to be confused with the “Purple People eaters,” as the Raiders are yielding 72% completions with no interceptions. Does this mean we’ll see some offense? Well, we’re fairly certain at least one side is capable of it.