For the second time in four weeks, the NFL schedule will begin with an AFC West rivalry game. This time around, the honor goes to the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders. Kickoff is at 8:20 EST on Thursday, November 7 at Oakland Coliseum. Fans can watch the game on either Fox or the NFL Network.
Early betting odds have the Chargers as 1-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is listed at 48 points. Click here to look up all of the Week 10 betting odds.
At 4-4, the Raiders continue to be one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year. Even after dropping back-to-back games, Jon Gruden was able to rally his team for a bounce-back win against the Lions last week. Oakland has managed to go 3-1 at home in their final season in Oakland. Holding serve at home has allowed the Raiders to stay just one game back of the Chiefs in the loss column in the AFC West.
Of course, the Raiders need to keep winning if they’re going to challenge Kansas City or make some noise in the Wild Card race. With a win this week, Oakland will get back above .500 with games against the Bengals and Jets the next two weeks ahead of a crucial showdown with the Chiefs. But if the Raiders lose on Thursday and fall two games back of Kansas City, it’ll likely be Wild Card or bust for Gruden’s team.
Meanwhile, the Chargers can’t be counted out of the AFC West race just yet. A few weeks ago, L.A. was sputtering at 2-5 and looking at a lost season. However, they stole a win over the Bears two weeks ago via a last-second missed field goal. The Lightning Bolts followed up that fortunate win with a dominating performance over the Packers in Week 9, winning 26-11 to get to 4-5 on the season.
However, that record still puts the Chargers two games back of Kansas City with the Chiefs on their schedule for Week 11. In fact, Los Angeles is about to play their next three games against their AFC West rivals. Also, three of their next four games are on the road. While the Chargers have managed to get themselves back in the playoff picture, they could quickly disappear if they can’t push their winning streak to three games.
On top of everything at stake in the standings, this is also a bitter rivalry game between two teams that have a history dating back to 1960. The Chargers have swept the season series in four of the last seven years, so they’ve had plenty of success beating the Raiders on the road. It’s also worth noting that this will be the last time the Chargers visit Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas next year.
The Raiders are still flying under the radar, but they’ve proven they can win games, especially at home. Meanwhile, the Chargers are surging, but I’m still a little skeptical of them. L.A. has found some interesting ways to lose games this year and they would have lost in Chicago two weeks ago if not for a missed field goal. I’m as surprised as anyone to be saying this, but I feel more comfortable taking the Raiders in this game.
The only thing that gives me pause in this game is that the Chargers looked like a new team last week. They fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt after the win against the Bears and things quickly turned around with Shane Steichen calling plays. The Chargers got back to running the ball with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combining for 150 yards on the ground against Green Bay. That duo can continue to do serious damage if Los Angeles remains committed to running the ball.
On the other hand, the Chargers struggled in the red zone against Green Bay, settling for four field goals. Plus, one of their two touchdowns came against a short field. That gives me a little pause before believing that the L.A. offense has turned things around completely. Keep in mind that while the Oakland defense has struggled this year, allowing 27 points per game, they’ve been good against the run more times than not.
Meanwhile, there’s little doubt that the Oakland offense can score points. Running back Josh Jacobs is having an outstanding rookie season. He’s the bell cow that has the Raiders ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game. At the same time, Derek Carr is doing his part despite a lack of established receivers at his disposal. Carr has completed over 71% of his passes and thrown just four interceptions, so he’s being efficient, even if he’s not putting up gaudy numbers.
The caveat is that the Los Angeles defense is fresh off a dominating performance over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. With Melvin Ingram back from injury, the Chargers have both him and Joey Bosa going after the quarterback at the same time. However, the Raiders are equipped to handle a strong pass rush. Carr has been sacked just nine times in eight games and hasn’t been sacked in back-to-back games, in part because the Raiders are able to establish a strong rushing attack.
I’ll admit that it’s tempting to take the Chargers after that impressive win over the Packers. But the Raiders have an answer for the Los Angeles running game and their pass rush. I don’t think the Chargers can win if they don’t excel in both of those areas. In the end, I think the Raiders find a way to win a high-scoring game at home.