Free NFL Picks San Diego at Oakland 10-10-2010

October 10, 2010

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San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders

October 10th, 2010 4:15 EST

Line: San Diego -6 1/2

Overview:

The last thirteen times these teams have met, the Chargers have come away with a victory. It’s no secret that the Chargers have owned the division recently, but the division seems more wide open this year than it has been since the Chiefs were dominant in the early 2000’s. The Chargers flexed their muscles last week by beating the Cardinals by 31. The Cardinals knocked off the Raiders in week two when Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal to clinch a victory. Football isn’t an equation, as just because your opponent lost to a team you beat earlier in the year does not automatically mean you will come away with a win. This one could be closer than the Chargers anticipate.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Chargers can run the ball, regardless of who is in the back field. 132.3 yards a game on the ground has come from a number of contributing sources. Last week, the team worked a banged up Ryan Matthews back into the lineup, but Mike Tolbert had a career game in his stead as the feature back. The Chargers imposed their will on the Cardinals and the Raiders are vulnerable up front. They made some improvements to their front seven over the off season, but the Raiders are still stronger at stopping the pass than the run. So far this year they have faced Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, and Steven Jackson. Certainly that is a daunting task for any team, but allowing 162 yards on the ground per game makes it difficult to come away with a win. Look for the Chargers to share carries amongst their stable of running backs.
  • San Diego has an elite defense. They haven’t played any teams that are offensive powerhouses, but the Raiders are not going to break that streak. The Raiders have shown improvement this year in the run game, making Darren McFadden the 4th leading rusher in the NFL. Bruce Gradkowski doesn’t pose a huge threat to make big plays. The Raiders run the West Coast offense, which makes Zach Miller dangerous, but holds back Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward Bey. The Chargers are solid enough in their pass defense to load up the box. Unless the Chargers forget about Zach Miller, I don’t think the Raiders are going to be able to get anything going offensively.
  • Antonio Gates is the most dangerous person on the field. You can’t put a linebacker on him, because he is too fast and runs routes like a veteran recevier. You can’t put a safety on him, because he is too big and too physical. Gates leads the team in receptions and yards, but what is most impressive is his ability to get into the end zone this year. Six touchdowns in just four games is incredible for anyone, let alone a tight end. He has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season. Philip Rivers has a main guy he can trust when they get into the red zone. Gates could toy with the Raiders this Sunday if they decide to take the same route as their predecessors. Gates is going to get the ball, keying on him is going to be essential.

Wrap up:

The Raiders were supposed to have a break through year. Unfortunately, Jason Campbell wasn’t who he thought he was. The Chargers look like they have returned to their old form. I could see the Raiders producing five or so wins this year, but San Diego will continue their ownership over the Raiders come Sunday. I think 6 1/2 sounds about right, but a blow out could be in store for the Raiders.

Free NFL Pick: San Diego -6 1/2


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