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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

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With Rivers, Palmer passing, Chargers-Raiders is a pick ’em

By Barry Wilner
Associated Press

POSTED:


Two reeling teams that somehow remain atop their divisions open the NFL’s Thursday night package in Oakland. Picking a winner could come down to who throws more picks: Philip Rivers of the Chargers or Carson Palmer of the Raiders.

San Diego has lost three straight, allowing a solid grip on the slippery division to disappear. Now, the Chargers are tied with Oakland, loser of two straight, and Kansas City at 4-4.

Certainly the league was hoping for some sort of shootout as it begins its NFL Network telecasts, and it might get one. If the air is filled with footballs, look for defenders to be catching some of them.

Rivers, having the worst season of his eight-year career, ranks 20th in passer rating, has thrown a league-high 14 interceptions and is making poor decisions. Last Sunday, two of his passes were returned for touchdowns and a third nearly was.

He also helped the Chargers keep it close in a 45-38 loss to unbeaten Green Bay.

“We scored 38 points. That in itself is good,” Rivers said. “Obviously, you can’t turn the ball over. That was the difference in the game, turning it over. That’s something I need to keep working on and do a better job of. We gave ourselves a chance and never quit. But there’s no consolation when you lose.”

Oakland, a 7-point underdog, has lost divisional games to Kansas City and Denver, bringing both of those clubs back into the AFC West race. As expected, new quarterback Carson Palmer looked rusty (or worse) in the six quarters he’s played since ending his self-imposed retirement and being traded by Cincinnati to the Raiders.

Palmer has thrown six interceptions and three touchdowns and has an ugly 53.9 rating.

“You go out and win on Thursday night and it’s a great feeling again,” Palmer said. “You have a chance to be on top of the division, but you have a chance to get a win and feel good about your team and just keep trucking through the season. I’m extremely excited about what we can be. I think the future is bright.”

San Diego’s immediate future is brighter, especially with Raiders back Darren McFadden still out with an injured ankle.

CHARGERS, 34-23

Buffalo (plus 51⁄2) at Dallas
Bills rebound well after a loss and match up well against inconsistent Cowboys.
BILLS, 28-27

Pittsburgh (minus 3) at Cincinnati
Bengals can stamp themselves as true contender with win here. We don’t believe quite yet.
STEELERS, 23-17

New Orleans (pick ’em) at Atlanta
Statement win for Falcons in NFC South race.
FALCONS, 30-28

New York Giants (plus 31⁄2) at San Francisco
Renewal of a classic rivalry of the 1980s and early ’90s. Winner has inside track for playoff bye.
GIANTS, 22-21

New England (plus 11⁄2) at New York Jets
The matchups no longer work for the Patriots. Jets will get physical from outset.
JETS, 27-23

Minnesota (plus 131⁄2) at Green Bay, Monday night
No Brett Favre drama this time. Or any drama.
PACKERS, 37-20

Denver (plus 3) at Kansas City
What happened to all that Chiefs momentum? They can recapture it here.
CHIEFS, 24-17

Jacksonville (minus 3) at Indianapolis
Might be Colts’ best opportunity for a win. Do we have the guts to pick them? Nope.
JAGUARS, 20-7

Houston (minus 3) at Tampa Bay
Texans can really show they are new and improved with big road win.
TEXANS, 28-27

Tennessee (plus 3) at Carolina
Titans regressing, starting to look like rebuilding team, exactly what Panthers are.
PANTHERS, 23-16

Washington (plus 31⁄2) at Miami
A winning streak for the Dolphins? Why not?
DOLPHINS, 17-13

Baltimore (minus 7) at Seattle
Even with the expected emotional letdown, Ravens are too much for Seahawks.
RAVENS, 20-9

Arizona (off) at Philadelphia
Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb’s injury erases any line. Eagles are finished if they fall.
EAGLES, 26-17

BEST BET
Detroit (plus 3) at Chicago
Lions come off bye, Bears off nice Monday night showing. Both are wild-card threats.
BEARS, 24-23

UPSET SPECIAL
St. Louis (plus 21⁄2) at Cleveland
Hard to favor Browns over anyone, and Rams are beginning to show moxie.
RAMS, 17-10

¯¯¯¯¯

RECORD:

Against spread: 7-6 (overall 71-50-3); straight up 8-6 (overall 88-42).
Best bet: 2-7 against spread, 4-5 straight up.
Upset special: 7-2 against spread, 5-4 straight up.

STANDINGS

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

EAST W L T PCT PF PA
New England 5 3 0 .625 222 184
N.Y. Jets 5 3 0 .625 199 163
Buffalo 5 3 0 .625 222 174
Miami 1 7 0 .125 138 169
SOUTH W L T PCT PF PA
Houston 6 3 0 .667 236 157
Tennessee 4 4 0 .500 156 169
Jacksonville 2 6 0 .250 98 163
Indianapolis 0 9 0 .000 128 283
NORTH W L T PCT PF PA
Baltimore 6 2 0 .750 208 130
Cincinnati 6 2 0 .750 195 140
Pittsburgh 6 3 0 .667 196 162
Cleveland 3 5 0 .375 119 170
WEST W L T PCT PF PA
Kansas City 4 4 0 .500 131 201
San Diego 4 4 0 .500 199 204
Oakland 4 4 0 .500 184 216
Denver 3 5 0 .375 171 224

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

EAST W L T PCT PF PA
N.Y. Giants 6 2 0 .750 198 184
Dallas 4 4 0 .500 179 175
Philadelphia 3 5 0 .375 203 182
Washington 3 5 0 .375 127 158
SOUTH W L T PCT PF PA
New Orleans 6 3 0 .667 287 205
Atlanta 5 3 0 .625 189 170
Tampa Bay 4 4 0 .500 147 196
Carolina 2 6 0 .250 187 207
NORTH W L T PCT PF PA
Green Bay 8 0 0 1.000 275 179
Detroit 6 2 0 .750 239 147
Chicago 5 3 0 .625 200 174
Minnesota 2 6 0 .250 172 199
WEST W L T PCT PF PA
San Francisco 7 1 0 .875 206 118
Seattle 2 6 0 .250 122 185
Arizona 2 6 0 .250 162 196
St. Louis 1 7 0 .125 100 211

WEEK 10

Today
Oakland at San Diego, 3:20 p.m.

Sunday
New Orleans at Atlanta, 8 a.m.
Tennessee at Carolina, 8 a.m.
Detroit at Chicago, 8 a.m.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 8 a.m.
St. Louis at Cleveland, 8 a.m.
Buffalo at Dallas, 8 a.m.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 8 a.m.
Denver at Kansas City, 8 a.m.
Washington at Miami, 8 a.m.
Arizona at Philadelphia, 8 a.m.
Houston at Tampa Bay, 8 a.m.
Baltimore at Seattle, 11:05 a.m.
N.Y. Giants at San Francisco, 11:15 a.m.
New England at N.Y. Jets, 3:20 p.m.

Monday
Minnesota at Green Bay, 3:30 p.m.

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