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Upset Picks for Week 16 in NFL: Raiders Close Out California With a Win

Jon Gruden
The soon-to-be Vegas Raiders couldn't close out their Oakland career with a win. But with a trip to Los Angeles on tap, they can still leave some Blackhole faithful with a smile. Photo from US Air Force / Louis Briscese (Flickr).
  • After screwing up their Coliseum send-off, can the Raiders close out their Cali career with a win over the Chargers?
  • Can Le’Veon Bell get revenge on a Steelers team that barely resembles the one he left? 
  • Last week was a rough 0-2: our dogs didn’t even cover thanks to a blown call and the worst beat of 2019

Ugh. I’m kind of looking forward to the end of the NFL regular season. Week 15 left us with a bad taste in our mouth after a brutal kick call hurt one of our bets and another failed to even cover after a final play fumble return TD.

Looking at the odds for Week 16, we’re jumping on some teams that are already out of the playoff race: the most dangerous type of squad at this time of year. With nothing to lose, let’s hope these hapless teams throw the kitchen sink at the opposition this week and wash away bad memories from last week.

Oakland Raiders vs Los Angeles Chargers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Oakland Raiders +7.5 +275
Los Angeles Chargers -7.5 -350

Odds taken Dec. 20

I feel like we ask this question every time Vegas sets a Chargers home spread, but here goes again: why do you give the team with no fans a homefield bump? Played on a neutral field (which this game won’t be, because it will be 80% pro-Raiders) Los Angeles would not be more than a touchdown favorite.

They already lost to Oakland once, in classic excruciating Chargers fashion.

 

The Raiders are coming off their own humiliating loss, closing out the Coliseum with a fourth quarter collapse to the Gardner Minshew-led Jags. But they still have a chance to leave a large group of Black Hole faithful with good memories by ending the Chargers (slightly less historic) run at Dignity Health Sports Park with a loss.

Winless straight up and against the spread in the last month, betting Oakland here is more of a “they’re due” play than anything else. But if you’ve seen the Chargers play at all this season, you know that Philip Rivers has been all over the awful spectrum, which could make life easier for a Raiders D that ranks 31st in defensive DVOA.

 

Meanwhile, Derek Carr is quietly having the most efficient season of his career, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt.

And if obscure stats are your thing, it’s worth noting that the winner of the first meeting between these two has gone on to sweep the season series in each of the last five seasons.

Pick: 1 unit on the Raiders moneyline (+275)

Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Jets Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 -180
New York Jets +3 +160

The Steelers proved they’re a fraudulent contender last week: in a textbook ugly game in Pittsburgh, they couldn’t out-grit the Bills. If the Steelers can’t win a sloppy 17-10 game against a playoff team, they’re never going to beat a playoff team.

]The Jets are certainly not a playoff team, but they have a feisty defense of their own. Ranking 13th in overall defensive DVOA and second against the run, they’re well-equipped to take away what the Steelers offense does… I don’t want to say well, but less terrible.

As for the Jets’ offense: they’ve been capable of great highs and lows this year. But if ever there was a game they finally get Le’Veon Bell going, it should come here against his former squad.

 

The Jets have won four of their last five at MetLife, beating far better QBs than (throwing a) Duck Hodges. In the biggest game of his young career, expect Hodges to lay an egg here.

Pick: 1.5 units on Jets moneyline (+160)

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