Raiders try to hang in playoff race on TNF

LEFT: Tight end Foster Moreau #87 of the Las Vegas Raiders runs to score a touchdown on a 47-yard pass play in the first half of their game at Allegiant Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Colts defeated the Raiders 44-27. (Photo b

One of the best parts of a trip to Las Vegas can be the all or nothing nature of it. You are either a big winner or you make the walk of shame down the Strip.

For most of the season, it appeared that the Las Vegas Raiders appeared ready to break the bank. They beat the Chiefs in Kansas City and opened their new palace- Allegiant Stadium- with a victory over the New Orleans Saints. The plan of Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock was coming together.

Perhaps it was a mirage in the desert.  Losses in three of the last four games means that a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football (8 p.m., FOX) is an all or nothing proposition for the Raiders.

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The sports betting information

On Sportsbook, the Raiders are 3 1/2 point favorites with  a money line of -188. (A $188 bet would pay out $100.) The Chargers are +160 (a $100 bet pays $160) with the over-under of 53 points.  Against the number this year, Las Vegas is 7-6 while Los Angeles is 6-7. Las Vegas is tied for the best record on the overs, going 9-3-1 against the total. The Chargers are 7-6 on the over.

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The history

The classic AFC West rivalry sees the Raiders- in their Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas history- are 66-54-2 against the Chargers, who have toggled between San Diego and LA over their 61 year existence.

The Raiders have won the last three games in the series, including a 31-26 win in early November at SoFi Stadium. Carr threw two touchdown passes while Josh Jacobs added another. Justin Herbert threw for 329 yards and a touchdown in his first game in the rivalry.

The storylines to watch

The Raiders have been as maddening a watch as anyone. They had the lead late against the Chiefs to move within a game of the division lead before a Travis Kelce touchdown catch from Patrick Mahomes ended the divisional dream. Since then, the Raiders suffered an embarrassing 43-6 road loss to the Atlanta Falcons, received a huge gift with  a 31-28 last second win against the winless New York Jets before regressing in a 44-27 loss to Indianapolis that led to the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther Sunday night. Former Lions coach Rod Marinelli takes over as the defensive coordinator. They still possess speed and a back in Jacobs who can grind out a ton of yards. Carr still can be a very effective quarterback, but the Raiders need to get things stable or that will do it for their season.

Meanwhile, Herbert has been the bright spot of a Chargers season that has been one heartbreak after another. Los Angeles did a bright spot at Michael Badgley’s 43 yard field goal at the gun gave the Chargers a 20-17 win over the Falcons. Herbert is surrounded with a ton of offensive talent from Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Still, these could be the last days for Anthony Lynn as Chargers head coach. The next coach could get a very appealing lineup going forward.

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