AFC West Showdown: San Diego Chargers host the Oakland Raiders

In the first edition of the NFL’s 2011-12 Thursday Night Football campaign, the San Diego Chargers (4-4) will look to break a 3-way deadlock in the AFC West as they play host to the visiting Oakland Raiders (4-4) in a critical match-up to open up Week 10 of the NFL Football season. As both teams come into tonight’s match-up on a series of setbacks, and struggling to find confidence in the quarterback position, football fans are likely to expect a gritty, win-at-any-costs type of contest tonight, one that certainly should make for great online sportsbook betting, and great viewing, provided of course you’ve bought into the NFL Network (which we grumpily oppose, and refuse to support!). Nonetheless, as the top item on the list of available options for online sportsbook betting today, make sure to join us in breaking down and then wagering on this first Thursday NFL game of the season, as it’s certain to be a good one whether you are able to view it or not tonight.

At home, San Diego has a lot of improvement to make coming off a 3-game losing streak and looking to avoid their first 4-game slide since starting 0-5 in 2003. It continues to be an odd scene watching quarterback Phillip Rivers play so poorly this season, and after expecting him to come out of his funk week after week, get more comfortable in the pocket and start throwing to his star cast of receiving talent, it’s beginning to become question time as to whether or not Rivers will return to form at all this season. Throwing a league-high 14 interceptions this season and turning the ball over 19 times overall this year, the 3-time Pro Bowler has baffled just about all the analysts this season as to why there’s been such a sudden change in form, even though the San Diego passing attack still ranks 4th in the league with 294.9 yards/game. That number might actually be a bit higher than San Diego’s liking, and could likely be contributing to Rivers’ poor form, considering it comes at the expense of a balanced offense which hasn’t been helped by the fact that recurring injuries to the Chargers’ main backfield threats Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert keep popping up. However, with both running backs looking likely to start in tonight’s match-up against the Raiders, and Rivers throwing his first multiple-TD game against the Packers last week (4 TDs, though he did also cough up 3 INTs), this offense seems to be on the mending scoring-wise, so long as they can keep the big mistakes to a minimum.

Mistakes have also been a key part to Oakland’s recent slide, losing the last two games since putting veteran quarterback Carson Palmer in control. Despite the inconsistent play of a quarterback in a new system, even more hurtful to the Raiders has been their ability to shoot themselves in the foot, coming into this match-up as the most penalized team in the league (84 penalties for 730 yards). For instance, in last week’s game alone the Raiders gave up more yards in penalties (130 on 15 calls) than either their top running back or their top receiver produced in the game (96 and 105 yards respectively). In order for the Raiders to come out victorious against a San Diego team that can turn a mistake into points in very few plays, one of the big keys for tonight’s game on the Raiders side of the ball is to stay disciplined especially on the line. Moving past that however, Oakland will have to contend without starting running back Darren McFadden, as Run DMC will sit for the second straight game with a sprained foot, and Michael Bush will have to try to take the brunt of the load against the Chargers 18th-ranked rush defense. Though there’s certainly room to wiggle with SD giving up 120 yards on the ground per game, not having McFadden in the backfield will certainly push more pressure onto starting QB Carson Palmer to get the job done, and force Michael Bush to be productive early in order to keep Oakland from playing catch-up from behind with the passing game. Against the league’s 4th rated pass defense, hedging too much on Palmer in this game will likely lead to a Raiders’ loss, so the second key item on the Raiders’ checklist for tonight is finding a way to balance out the offense, and keep Palmer from having to throw more times than Oakland rushes.

Betting Lines for Sand Diego vs. Oakland Sportsbook is our featured online sports betting website today, and the betting lines at this best online sportsbook favor the home team Chargers with a 7 point advantage on the spread, and -330 odds on the money line. Oakland will have a touchdown + field goal for wiggle room on the spread tonight, and if Carson Palmer can shed some of his early mistakes and cast them upon Phillip Rivers, the Raiders could be a good bet to keep this game within 3-4 points, provided they can get the running game going on the road. The over/under stands at 47 1/2 points at -110 odds at WagerWeb Sportsbook today, and with Oakland ranking 27th in total defense and 29th against the rush, if San Diego gets its backfield going, this could easily become a blowout situation for the Raiders on the road tonight. Despite getting beat in the last two meetings between these two teams, San Diego had won 13 straight games prior to last season, and will certainly look to get back to those winning ways, as well as back on top of the AFC West with a home victory tonight.

Our Pick to Win:

I’ve had Phillip Rivers’ back this season waiting for an eventual return to proper form, and hoping amongst all hope that the San Diego star quarterback will have a break-out week that puts a sportsbook wager into the black, and puts the Chargers back on track as the proper playoff contender they should be. However, after a series of 3 straight losses, and Rivers still not looking entirely comfortable (having 4 TDs last weekend against the Packers on 385 yards, BUT 3 picks), even the visiting Raiders, outmatched across the field on both sides of the ball, appear to have a shot at winning on the road in this pivotal AFC West contest. Thus, today marks the last week I’m going all-in on the Chargers to win, as this match-up is very favorable for San Diego at home, especially when considering an Oakland team missing its top running back, and struggling on defense and in penalization. With big hopes and a firm wager placed taking the Chargers to cover the spread and also for the game to beat the over/under, we’ll back San Diego with a solid win at home, 30-21.


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