TNF Free NFL Picks: Numbers Point 'Under' in Christmas Eve Conflict

Doug Upstone

Thursday, December 24, 2015 2:10 PM GMT

The Thursday night schedule concludes with a divisional rivalry. The sportsbooks betting odds on the total have been relatively stable to this point , yet not everything lines up accordingly.

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Free NFL Pick: Play Under
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

What makes this game a little bit more unusual is San Diego and Oakland, despite being long time hated rivals, might tenants in a brand new football stadium in the not too distant future, which would really strange. It's one thing to do what the New York teams do, but they are in different conferences.

Anyways, at Youwager and many other books, the NFL odds began at 46.5 and have moved to 47, despite better than 80 percent of bets placed on the OVER. This means it is mostly public money and the wagering outlets are not seeing much influential cash that might mean a different position.

For NFL picks, what is the right way to bet this total, your friendly football handicapper is about to help you out.

 

Making the Case for the Over
We will start with the defenses, as San Diego allows 24.9 points a contest and Oakland 25.4. The Chargers are vulnerable on two fronts, first, if the Raiders continue to run the ball in the first quarter like they have in recent games, San Diego could be hard-pressed to slow them down, ranked 24th in rush defense in permitting 120.6 yards a game. Often times the yards have come from big plays, listed 30th in yards per carry allowed at 4.7 an attempt. In similar fashion, the same is basically true of the Chargers pass defense, which is 28th in yards per pass attempt given up. With rookie Amari Cooper breaking out of two-game slump, he could provide big plays.

San Diego's offense is wholly dependent on Philip Rivers with all the injuries they have incurred. The Bolts like to run short passing game, which gets the ball out of Rivers hands quick and helps prevent sacks. Oakland does not give up a lot of big plays on defense, but ranks 28th is passing yards given up at 265.6. The Raiders also hurt themselves with penalties, with the 28th most and when they happen on defense, that improves the opposing teams field position.

These teams are listed 23rd (Oakland) and 24th in yards per point allowed, which could have some making sports picks think OVER.

 

Making the Case for Under
Both the offenses are average to below, with Oakland scoring 22.8 PPG and San Diego at 20. The Chargers running game is the worst in the league at 83.9. Injuries have prevented any continuity to even try and establish the run and rookie Melvin Gordon is San Diego's best option, but he keeps fumbling and seems to have lost confidence. Rivers can move the ball between the 20's, but lacks playmakers in the red zone.

Derek Carr was in very good groove throwing the ball and making plays for two months, but has only averaged 220 passing yards a contest in the last five. Cooper until last week was playing like he hit the rookie wall and Michael Crabtree has been banged up and has not created much separation in running routes. Though coach Jack Del Rio has stayed committed to the run, the Raiders have only put up 77.3 YPG on the ground in last six outings and opponents are not respecting Carr's play action fakes.

 

What is Inside the Envelope?
No, I'm not going Steve Harvey on you, I'll say this right the first time. The UNDER is my choice for several analytical reasons. I will start with the Chargers being s 8-1 UNDER after scoring 30 points or more in last game and the Raiders 28-13 UNDER off a home loss by 10 or more.

From my perspective, the offenses inabilities outweigh the weaknesses of the defense. The earlier matchup ended up an Over play with Oakland winning 37-29, but since 2007, only once the total been a season sweep (not counting 2008 when oddly both totals were Push) and San Diego is 6-0 UNDER revenging a same season setback.