Chargers vs. Ravens NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Regression Is Looming For LA In Week 6
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert.
- The Chargers head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens as only 2.5-point underdogs in Week 6.
- Our expert takes a closer look at the Chargers vs. Ravens odds and matchup in order to make his pick.
- Find out why he forecasts regression for a red-hot LA team -- and why he's betting on that coming Sunday.
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Fresh off their comeback overtime victory over the Colts on Monday Night Football, the Ravens host the Chargers, who are coming off a comeback victory of their own against the Browns.
It doesn’t get much better than this, as we have two potential MVP quarterback candidates in Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson battling in a matchup that will certainly have major playoff seeding implications in the AFC.
Although both teams sit at 4-1, they’ve much different paths to their respective records, and the public perception reflects that. The Chargers have looked much more convincing with three straight wins over the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns, while the Ravens have found themselves in dogfights with the Lions and Colts, needing comeback victories in both games to secure victories.
Nevertheless, to the surprise of many, oddsmakers have installed the hometown Ravens as 2.5-point favorites with a total of 51.
So where is betting value on this matchup? Let’s find out!
Chargers Will Need Efficient Offense
Herbert is playing like an MVP candidate this season, throwing for 1,515 yards and 13 touchdowns while ranking eighth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and fifth in Expected Points Added per play (EPA/play). His stellar play has led the Chargers to a 4-1 start and a spot atop the AFC West standings.
Diving beneath the surface, though, there are some troubling trends when it comes to the Los Angeles Chargers.
In last week’s 47-42 comeback win over the Browns, the Chargers became the first team in NFL history to allow 40 or more points and force zero turnovers and still come away with the win. This certainly highlights how the Chargers have been floating on thin ice this season.
They’re just 22nd in Early Down Success Rate with only 44.6% of their plays on first and second down grading out positively. Where the Chargers are making a living is on third and fourth downs, on which they have a combined success rate of 57.3%. The Chargers are converting 48.53% of their third downs and have converted 7-of-8 (87.5%) fourth-down conversions this year.
Typically, Early Down Success is more predictive than success on later downs, and we expect their success on later downs to eventually regress to the mean.
Despite their struggles on early downs, the Chargers have strong offensive weapons in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler who should present a challenge for this Ravens defense.
The Chargers will need to generate efficient offense given their defensive issues — they sit dead-last in rushing yards per game (157.6) and yards per rush (5.6) while allowing a 50% rushing success rate on the ground.
Last week, Los Angeles was gashed on the ground with Cleveland running for 230 yards on 6.6 yards per rush. The Browns were equally effective through the air with Baker Mayfield throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns on 9.1 yards per attempt.
The Chargers will be missing linebacker Drue Tranquill, who suffered a pectoral injury last week. He’ll be replaced by rookie Nick Niemann, and the last thing you want when dealing with Lamar Jackson is a rookie linebacker.
Given the struggles against the Browns defensively, Herbert and the offense will have to find a way to win this game. It’s tough to imagine Los Angeles slowing down Jackson and Co.
Ravens Can Kickstart Chargers Regression
While many people will view the short week for Baltimore as a disadvantage, this has been a spot it has the Ravens have thrived in, going 8-0 straight-up (SU) and 6-1-1 against the spread (ATS) on short rest the last few seasons. It’s truly a testament to head coach John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson, who also appears to be an MVP candidate this season.
Jackson has improved as a passer this season, which was clear given his game against the Colts, against whom he completed 37-of-43 passes for 442 yards and four touchdowns while leading the Ravens to a come-from-behind victory in overtime. He’s thrown for 1,459 yards and eight touchdowns while also rushing for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Although the Chargers certainly have a better defense than the Colts, they should struggle with the dual-threat ability of Jackson given their struggles to stop the run.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins and tackle Ronnie Stanley have been ruled out for this matchup, so this Ravens offense is down a key receiver and will have to shuffle the offensive line.
Fortunately for the Ravens, they’ll welcome the debut of first-round rookie wideout Rashod Bateman on Sunday. With Bateman in the lineup, the Ravens have another weapon to go along with tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Marquise Brown.
Overall, I think the Ravens offense will be fine even in the absence of Watkins.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are 10th in Success Rate but just middle of the pack in Dropback Success Rate. They are one of the most blitz-heavy teams in the league, so I expect them to get at Herbert early and often, making him beat the pressure.
The Ravens may be successful stopping the Chargers on third and fourth downs, on which they rank sixth in EPA/play, fifth in Success Rate (40.3%) and sixth in Dropback Success Rate (37.3%).
If there’s a unit that can force this Chargers offense to regress to the mean, it’s the Ravens.
NFL Picks: Chargers vs. Ravens
I faded the Chargers last week because I thought the Browns had major advantages with their ability to run the ball. While it didn’t work out for us, Cleveland held a 14-point second-half lead before Herbert and LA mounted a comeback.
Los Angeles faces a fourth straight strong opponent, and for this one it has to fly east and deal with a quarterback like Jackson. I have trouble believing this struggling Chargers defense has any chance of slowing him down.
At some point, regression has to kick in for Los Angeles’ offense, too.
I’m betting it starts here.
Pick: Ravens -2.5