Raiders vs. Chargers Odds & Picks: How To Bet Sunday’s AFC West Showdown
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert
Raiders vs. Chargers Odds
The Chargers made history last week when they became the first NFL team to blow leads of 16 or more points in four straight games. They now sit at 2-5 after losing five of their last six games and look to rebound against the 4-3 Raiders, who are coming off a 16-6 road win against the Browns.
Despite their records, it’s clear that anything can happen in this AFC West divisional showdown — oddsmakers opened the Chargers as 2.5-point favorites with a total of 52.5, but the side and total have both seen movement as they were bet down to Chargers -1 and 51.5 (compare real-time odds here).
With the side and total both being steamed down from their openers, is the market correct in its assessment? Let’s find out!
Las Vegas Raiders
Even with a makeshift offensive line, the Raiders dominated up front in last week’s matchup against the Browns. After rushing for just 17 yards on 10 carries against Tampa Bay, Josh Jacobs bounced back for 128 yards on 31 carries (4.1 yards per carry) against Cleveland and the Raiders rushed for 209 total yards, controlling the time of possession by 15 minutes (37:43 vs. 22:17).
Unfortunately for Las Vegas, its offensive line issues get worse this week as left tackle Kolton Miller is out with an ankle injury and right tackle Trent Brown is once again the reserve/COVID list just one week after removed from it. Sam Young and Brandon Parker are next in the line behind Miller, but it can’t be understated how much of a loss he is to this unit — in 483 offensive snaps this season, Miller has played all of them. For a unit that has lacked continuity after losing Richie Incognito to an Achilles injury and Brown to both calf injury and COVID-19, Miller was one of the few consistent pieces of this offensive line.
If there’s anyone who can thrive getting the ball out quickly, it’s Derek Carr.
Carr ranks in the bottom-half of all NFL quarterbacks in time to throw (2.67 seconds) and is one of the least aggressive passers in the league. Nevertheless, he’s thrived this season as he’s fourth in completion percentage (71.1%) and quarterback rating (110.2), ninth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, 11th in touchdown passes (14) and has thrown just two interceptions this season. Given Carr’s play this season, it’s no coincidence the Raiders are fourth in total success rate, 13th in offensive efficiency and eighth in passing efficiency. They’re averaging 26.7 points per game and have needed every bit of it given their struggles on the other side of the ball.
Thanks to inclement weather with 35 mph winds last week, the Raiders defense was able to put up their best performance of the season, holding the Browns to just six points and 223 offensive yards — both of which were well below their season averages of 29 points per game and 377.9 yards per game, which rank 25th and 20th, respectively. The Raiders run defense still proved to be a complete sieve as they gave up 4.6 yards per carry for 101 yards on the ground.
With they’re back playing on a fast track under Los Angeles weather conditions, we should expect to see this defense return to form as one of the worst in the league. Las Vegas ranks 31st in defensive efficiency, including 27th against the pass and 31st against the run.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are second in yards per game (417.1), 11th in offensive efficiency and fifth in total success rate largely because of the play of Justin Herbert, who has been impressive in his rookie season — he ranks inside the top 10 in DVOA and third in passing yards per game (303.3).
Most of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks have played seven or eight games, depending on when their bye was scheduled. However, despite starting just six games, Herbert ranks seventh in touchdowns (15th) — that’s more than Drew Brees, Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford.
Not bad for a rookie.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Chargers’ change in philosophy since their bye has been instrumental in the success of their offense as they were the second-most run heavy team in the league before the bye with a 54% run on first and second downs. After the bye, the Chargers have passed 64% percent of the time on early downs, which has made them that much more difficult to defend. To provide context, the Seahawks are the most pass heavy team in the league this season, throwing 63% of the time on early downs — it’s not coincidence they have the highest-scoring offense, and the Chargers have done a solid job at replicating that over the past two weeks.
Keenan Allen leads the team in receptions and yards catching 53 passes for 548 yard. The cupboard is far from bare as eight different receivers have caught touchdown passes and Hunter Henry and Mike Williams have also been key contributors.
On the ground, the three-headed monster of Justin Jackson, Troymaine Pope and Joshua Kelly combined for 210 yards on the ground last week and look to continue that this week. Nonetheless, we should expect a big offensive performance against a Raiders team that’s 31st in defensive efficiency and ranks 30th with just seven sacks this season.
The Chargers will likely be without defensive end Joey Bosa (doubtful), who left last week’s game with a concussion. Cornerback Casey Hayward is also questionable after missing Friday’s practice due to a non-injury related issue. These would certainly be big losses for the Chargers, but Uchenna Nwosu and Melvin Ingram should have their way against a depleted Raiders offensive line that’s down multiple starters.
What would this line be if the Chargers didn’t blow a 24-3 third-quarter lead last week?
They out-gained the Broncos in total yards (485-351), got more first downs (28-17) and were superior in third-down efficiency and time of possession. The Chargers were up 24-10 with 1:36 left in the third quarter with the ball in the red zone when a Herbert interception ended a drive that could have all but iced the game.
Looking at the win probability chart of their last four games should tell you just how difficult it is to have a 1-3 record in these games. Nonetheless, we should expect this even out over the long run.
Despite an inability to close games, the Chargers have held leads of a touchdown or more over the Buccaneers, Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs, which says a lot about the overall quality of this team.
With the Raiders playing their second-straight road game and still sporting a patchwork offensive line without Miller and Brown, I like the Chargers to bounce back in this spot — even with the absence of Bosa.
The lookahead line was Chargers -2.5, and I’m personally fading the move as I believe the Chargers are the better team. The Chargers are 19th in DVOA while the Raiders are 24th. I’ll take Los Angeles to bounce back and would play this up to 2.5.
PICK: Chargers -1 (up to -2.5)