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July 30, 2014

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Week 16 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

A third straight cover could assist Chargers’ quest to stay in the playoff hunt

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The Associated Press

San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler (56), offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (76) and fullback Le’Ron McClain (33) huddle before playing against the Denver Broncos in an NFL game Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, in Denver.

Bolts, not unlike the ones depicted on the side of their helmets, must now come to strike the San Diego Chargers down from their perch of exaltation in local sports books.

Sun's NFL betting game of week 16

Which team would you bet in Oakland at San Diego?
Chargers -10 — 55.4%
Raiders +10 — 44.6%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

First-year coach Mike McCoy and his troops have gotten quite comfortable there, as bookmakers have toasted the Chargers' exploits for more than a week. San Diego gave a host of casinos their biggest single-game win of the week 15 slate by shocking Denver 27-20 as 10-point underdogs on Dec. 12.

They became the sixth team during the 2013 season to overcome a double-digit point spread and win outright, which is almost always an advantageous result for the house — particularly in stand-alone primetime games like Thursday Night Football.

Change can flash into the gambling market as fast as a thunderstorm at sea finds the coast, though. The Chargers are no longer an asset in Las Vegas. This week, they’re a liability.

They’re the team that’s giving double digits and drawing action anyway. San Diego opened as 9.5-point favorites at home against AFC West rival Oakland Raiders, but bettors have pushed the spread up to 10.

The West Coast showdown with a 1:25 p.m. kickoff was curiously the most selected game of this week’s handicapping contest, as all three sportswriters used one of their six picks — available at the bottom of the page — on it.

It’s quietly one of the more significant games of the week, too. The surprise taming of Denver and Peyton Manning by San Diego’s defense, which ranks as the worst in the league according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, made it that way.

The upset improved San Diego to 7-7 straight up on the year (8-5-1 against the spread), meaning it’s one victory away from surpassing sports books’ preseason win total of 7.5 games. The LVH Superbook beamed the Chargers’ odds to win the Super Bowl down three times, as they went from 300-to-1 to 100-to-1.

More significantly than any of that to the team, however, was keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. The Chargers are a game behind the Dolphins and Ravens, but losing a tiebreaker to the former, with two weeks to go.

Football Outsiders calculates their odds of making the postseason at a paltry 3 percent, but that’s better than last year when they were mathematically eliminated at this point. The Chargers need just one more win to ensure a better record than last year, the ignominious final year of Norv Turner’s tenure at the helm.

The Raiders are in the same situation as the Chargers in coach Dennis Allen’s second year, looking to best a 4-12 mark in 2012 with one more victory. But that’s a tall task with a meeting against the Broncos on deck after the Chargers game.

Oakland would need to win both to go over its preseason win total of 5.5 games. Bettors pounded the under, so sports books are looking at taking a hit on paying out all the tickets.

The Raiders could help minimize the damage by covering against the Chargers, which isn’t far-fetched in the least based on recent trends. Oakland has covered against its rivals to the south in seven of the past 10 meetings, including a 27-17 win as 5.5-point underdogs at home in week five this year.

The Raiders are a different team now, especially on offense. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had his finest moment against San Diego with 221 passing yards and two touchdowns, lost his job after the team fell to 3-6 straight up but 5-3-1 against the spread.

Rookie replacement Matt McGloin brought a change of pace as a pocket passer to Pryor’s scrambling style but hasn’t done any better, losing four of five and covering only twice. The one win was another double-digit delight, however, as the Raiders downed the Texans 28-23 as 10.5-point underdogs in McGloin’s debut.

Oakland looks to join Jacksonville as the second team this season to win two games outright as double-digit underdogs. On the year, double-digit underdogs are a profitable 16-9-1 against the spread.

Check below to find all of the Sun’s week 16 picks. Games are listed in order of their sports book rotation numbers.

 

Ray Brewer

Record: 42-44-4 (5-1 last week)

Dolphins minus-3 vs. Bills

Bears plus-3 at Eagles

Colts plus-7 at Chiefs

Vikings vs. Bengals over 48

Chargers minus-10 vs. Raiders

Patriots plus-2.5 at Ravens

 

Case Keefer (2012 champion)

Record: 42-46-2 (1-4-1 last week)

Bills plus-3 vs. Dolphins

Panthers minus-3 vs. Saints

Buccaneers plus-5.5 at Rams

Jaguars plus-5.5 vs. Titans

Cardinals plus-10.5 at Seahawks

Raiders plus-10 at Chargers

 

Taylor Bern

Record: 40-47-3 (2-3-1 last week)

Bears plus-3 at Eagles

Colts plus-7 at Chiefs

Cardinals vs. Seahawks under 44

Bengals minus-7 vs. Vikings

Lions minus-9 vs. Giants

Raiders plus-10 vs. Chargers

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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