The Week 5 NFL schedule includes an old-school AFC West rivalry game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. With both teams in need of a win, the Chargers are 5.5-point favorites at home.
Los Angeles is coming off a close win last week against the 49ers. Of course, as 10-point favorites, most expected the Chargers to have an easy time, but they ended up needing a late field goal to secure a 29-27 win. Given that they have a defense that’s among the worst in the NFL, the Chargers are a little fortunate to be 2-2 on the season. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they’ve played both the Chiefs and Rams, the league’s two undefeated teams.
Oakland, on the other hand, is just 1-3 on the season but has played better than their record indicates. The Raiders held halftime leads in each of their first three games but couldn’t hang on in the 2nd half. They finally got their first win of the season last week in a wild overtime affair against the Browns. Of course, they’ll have to build off that win in order to get themselves into the playoff picture.
A Tale of Two Halves
For the first time all season, the Raiders actually showed up in the 2nd half of their game against the Browns last week. In fact, they kept playing into the overtime period and managed to come out on top. To be fair, a couple of controversial calls went their way, but after blowing multiple leads, the Raiders were finally able to finish off a game. As it turns out, the Raiders are quite good when they play all four quarters, at least offensively.
Derek Carr’s seven interceptions in four games are a huge concern. But when he’s not turning the ball over, he’s leading a dynamic Oakland offense. Tight end Jared Cook and the aging Jordy Nelson actually have more receiving yards than Amari Cooper this year. Of course, that means the Raiders need more out of Cooper, but it also means they have a deep stable of playmakers, especially if Marshawn Lynch keeps giving them a viable rushing attack. Against a Chargers defense that’s giving up 30 points per game, the Raiders have the potential for another offensive explosion this week.
Old and Wise
Of course, the Chargers also own a rather dynamic offense. It may be just four games, but Philip Rivers has the highest completion percentage of his career. He’s also thrown just two interceptions through four games, putting him on track for a career-best. Most importantly, Rivers is doing this without sacrificing productivity.
To be fair, a lot of the credit belongs to the running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Both are averaging better than five yards per carry while also becoming key figures in the passing game. Against an Oakland defense that’s struggling to stop teams both on the ground and through the air, Gordon and Ekeler could have a field day on Sunday.
Just Watch the Fireworks
Taking the over on 52.2 points is not a bad play for this game. That’s a high number for an NFL game, but both of these teams have proven that they can score points while simultaneously being allergic to defense. Against the spread, there’s still reason to be a little wary of the Raiders showing up for four quarters. The line is a little big, but not if these teams score touchdowns and pass on field goal tries. Bet on the Chargers -5.5 to beat the Raiders in Week 5.