Raiders Face Make-or-Break Chargers Visit

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The Las Vegas Raiders must break a run of three defeats to keep their playoff dreams alive.

Gabe Jackson of the Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders were hoping a move to Las Vegas might bring about a change of luck when it came to making the playoffs. The Silver and Black have qualified for the post-season just once in the last 17 years and face more playoff anguish if they can’t end their current slump.

Three defeats from the last four matches have dropped the Raiders out of the playoff places and they must now win all three of their remaining matches if they are to secure a wildcard spot, starting with Thursday’s visit of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Bolts have little to play for after their playoff chances went up in smoke during a run of seven defeats from eight matches, leaving head coach Anthony Lynn firmly on the hot seat. The Bolts have the potential to wreck the Raiders’ playoff ambitions though, with Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert having already given Las Vegas a fright once this season.

Vegas Roll the Dice on Defensive Shake-Up

In the aftermath of Sunday’s disastrous 44-27 loss to fellow playoff hopefuls Indianapolis, Las Vegas took the decision to fire defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Head coach Jon Gruden certainly felt like something had to change after conceding 150 points in the last four games with the Raiders defence finding it tough to stop the run, in particular.

That leaky defence almost conspired to see the Raiders fall to the winless New York Jets, only for quarterback Derek Carr and the offence to pull it out of the bag on the very last play. The 31-28 success against the Jets is Las Vegas’ only win during a tough run which has seen them drop to 7-6 on the year.

Sitting a game back on the Miami Dolphins, who occupy the last playoff spot, Thursday’s visit of AFC West rivals Los Angeles is now a must-win for the Raiders ahead of a potentially decisive meeting with the Dolphins in Week 16. Las Vegas are the 20/33 favourites to get the win they so desperately need and 25/28 to cover the -3 handicap, which they managed the last time they face the Chargers.

Bolts Hoping to Strike it Lucky in Vegas

That 31-26 triumph in LA was tinged with good fortune as the Chargers failed to convert on a series in the redzone as time expired. That condemned the Bolts to a ninth successive loss to one of their AFC West adversaries; all part of a really disappointing season which could cost coach Lynn his job.

The Bolts had to overcome more poor communication and play calling from Lynn last Sunday as they managed to edge out the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 to move to 4-9 on the year and are now seeking to back-to-back wins for the first time since Week Nine of 2019.

That victory over the Falcons was the first time the Chargers had covered the handicap in seven attempts and it might be best to side with the Raiders on the handicap, Las Vegas having covered in their last six meetings with AFC West opposition.

Offences Relying on Jacobs and Ekeler

One of the only bright spots this season for the Chargers has been the performance of QB Herbert, who has already smashed several rookie records. The first-round pick out of Oregon had a strong showing in the reverse fixture with the Raiders, throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns, and he’s 20/23 to have over 279.5 yards on Thursday night.

Most of Herbert’s accomplishments have come without the assistance of first-choice running-back Austin Ekeler, who only recently returned from a hamstring injury. Ekeler has performed well since his comeback and against a Raiders defence that struggles to stop the run, he could enjoy a big night. He’s 5/6 to have over 55.5 rushing yards, a mark he easily passed against Atlanta, but more intriguingly he’s 20/27 to have over 39.5 receiving yards, which he’s managed in two of his last three games.

Much like the Raiders, the Chargers defence also has issues stopping the run, leading to Las Vegas racking up 160 yards on the ground in their win over LA. Josh Jacobs had 65 of those yards and is 4/5 to go over 64.5 rushing yards as he seeks a bounce-back game having been limited by injuries in recent weeks.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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