Schedule harsh on Chargers

Playing three games in 11 days is a piece of cake for teams in three of the four major professional sports leagues. Unfortunately, the San Diego Chargers are members of the National Football League, where playing a trio of contests in less than two weeks usually doesn’t bode well for players trying to rest their weary bones.

It also usually doesn’t bode well for bettors who are looking to put a few dollars on that tired squad. Nonetheless, most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have installed the Chargers as seven-point home favorites in their Thursday night matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

The total has been set at 48 points, with the NFL Network providing television coverage beginning at 5:20 p.m. PST.

Both clubs enter the contest tied for first place in the AFC West with identical 4-4 straight-up ledgers, with both also seeing the ‘over/under’ split evenly in their first eight encounters of the 2011-12 campaign.

However, the similarities stop there. Bettors have surely noticed that the Raiders have covered the spread in five of their first eight attempts, while the Chargers are a dismal 2-6 ATS.

The Raiders have dropped two in a row after starting the season 4-2. That includes Sunday’s 38-24 setback at the hands of the Denver Broncos as seven-point home favorites. The combined 62 points catapulted ‘over’ the 41 ½-point closing total, snapping Oakland’s string of four straight ‘under’ games.

Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes, but also was picked off three times in his first start for the Raiders. Palmer, obtained from Cincinnati in an Oct. 18 trade, finished 19-of-35 for 332 yards.

Running back Michael Bush accumulated 129 yards of offense (96 rushing), which included his first career receiving touchdown. Bush needs to continue that performance Thursday, as starting RB Darren McFadden is listed as “doubtful” with a sprained foot. McFadden has not played since Week 7 against the Chiefs.

Oakland is averaging 371.9 total yards per game, which ranks 10th in the league. The squad ranks third with an average of 151.9 rushing yards per outing.

However, defense has not been Oakland’s strong suit. The Raiders rank 30th by allowing an average of 27 points per game and 27th in total yards allowed per contest (386.4).

San Diego has dropped three in a row since starting the season 3-1. That includes last Sunday’s 45-38 setback against the defending champion Green Bay Packers as 5 ½-point home underdogs.

The combined 83 points soared above the 50 ½-point closing total, leaving the ‘over’ 3-1 San Diego’s last four contests. However, the ‘under’ is 7-1 in San Diego’s last eight home encounters.

Quarterback Phillip Rivers almost helped the Chargers overcome a 21-point fourth quarter deficit, but suffered his third pass interception with just over one minute left in regulation. Though Rivers tossed four touchdowns against the Packers, he leads the NFL with 14 interceptions.

The Chargers are averaging 407 yards per game, which ranks sixth, and 294.9 passing yards per outing (fourth). Despite those gaudy numbers, they are just 12th in the league with a 24.9 points per game average.

San Diego is yielding 25.5 PPG, which ranks 27th. However, the club is allowing an average of just 191.6 passing yards per contest, which ranks fourth.

TRENDS

Oakland is 4-0 ATS in its last four road games and 4-0 ATS in its last four as a road underdog. The Raiders are a nifty 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games following an ATS loss.

San Diego is 24-7 ATS in their last 31 games as a home favorite between 3 ½ and 10 points. The ‘under’ is 7-0 in San Diego’s last seven as a home favorite.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Raiders are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings against the Chargers, with the ‘under’ going 12-3-1 in the last 16 matchups in San Diego.

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