We kick off the Thursday Night Football Schedule with first place in the AFC West on the line as the banged-up Chargers host the banged-up Raiders. Then again, isn’t everyone banged up at this point? Here’s who I like tonight, and I don’t mean Mike Mayock…
I’m taking San Diego to win quite handily. I’d love to get the Bolts at -6.5, but it’s 7 right now. No biggie, because I’m quite confident in at least a push so long as it’s a touchdown and not north of that.
Here’s my reasoning behind going with the Chargers…
1. Four extra days won’t be enough for Carson Palmer. He’s been terrible thus far, and I don’t think playing on only three days’ rest will be good for a guy who’s played just six quarters of football in 10 months. Now he has to face the league’s fourth-best pass defense, featuring premier ball-hawk Eric Weddle.
2. Still no Darren McFadden for the Raiders. Michael Bush was solid against the Broncos, but he’s not the same type of weapon McFadden is.
3. San Diego has been solid at home. The Chargers were 3-0 at Qualcomm before losing a close shootout to the Packers last week. But you have to think they gained some confidence by pushing the NFL’s best team to the brink. Now we see a frustrated Philip Rivers at home against a team hanging its head after a second straight embarrassing loss. And I’m still not comfortable with Oakland’s secondary.
4. I’m not making too much of Shaun Phillips’ injury for San Diego. The Chargers have seven sacks in two weeks sans Phillips this season. And on offense, they get Ryan Mathews back. So the injury situation favors San Diego.
And finally, reason to be a little cautious: San Diego’s run defense has actually been much worse than Denver’s on paper, which could mean a big day for Bush. And of course, the Raiders swept the Chargers in last year’s season series, winning handily in San Diego. In that win, Jason Campbell only had to throw 16 passes, but Oakland had McFadden and the Chargers didn’t have Vincent Jackson (who has been fantastic when healthy this season).
GLS prediction: Chargers 30, Raiders 20