NFL Saturday Betting Guide: All You Need to Know for Redskins-Titans, Ravens-Chargers
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Melvin Gordon, Lamar Jackson and Corey Davis
All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.
Betting odds: Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans
- Spread: Titans -10
- Over/Under: 37
- Time: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NFL Network
Betting market: Even though the Redskins are playing Josh Johnson at quarterback on the road, they are attracting nearly 60% of bets at the time of writing, kicking the line down from Washington +10.5 to +10.
Trends to know: Tennessee scored 17 points in a win over the New York Giants in Week 15, and now the Titans are double-digit favorites at home.
The Redskins have scored 16 points or fewer in each of their past three games. Since 2003, teams that scored fewer than 17 points in three consecutive games are 125-137-4 ATS (47.7%). — Evan Abrams
After pulling off the upset as 7.5-point underdogs against the Jaguars in Week 15, the Redskins are big underdogs against Tennessee this weekend. History hasn’t been kind to teams in this spot.
Since 2011, teams that are listed as an underdog of at least seven points after pulling off an outright win in the same spot the previous week are just 5-19-1 ATS (20.8%).
Teams in this spot have lost 16 consecutive games straight up dating back to 2013. — Evan Abrams
Playoff picture: There’s really only one NFC playoff spot up for grabs, and believe it or not, the 7-7 Redskins are one of four teams still alive for it. But our simulations only give them a 6.2% chance to make it due to having a tough remaining schedule (at Tennessee and vs. Philly) and a third-string QB under center.
The Titans, Ravens and Colts are in a battle for the AFC’s 6-seed. With Tennessee being 10-point favorites vs. Washington and likely to win the game straight up, its playoff chances will come down to a Week 17 game vs. the Colts.
A Ravens loss later on Saturday night would go a long way toward improving the Titans’ odds of making the dance. —Scott T. Miller
Biggest mismatch: Titans Pass Defense vs. Redskins Pass Offense
An unfortunate string of broken legs for a franchise all too familiar with them has left the Redskins with journeyman Josh Johnson under center.
Johnson has only 218 career pass attempts to his name despite being drafted way back in 2009, and his career 5.35 net yards per pass attempt would rank 31st among qualified passers this season.
It’s a good thing he’s fleet of foot, having already amassed 94 rushing yards and a touchdown this season on 16 carries, because taking to the air against Tennessee could be futile — the Giants threw 44 times on Tennessee last week but failed to muster even a single point.
Keyed by First-Team All-Pro safety Kevin Byard, Mike Vrabel’s defense plays sticky coverage, earning the fourth-best overall coverage grade in the league (89.7) from Pro Football Focus.
While the Titans have struggled against top-end quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson and Philip Rivers, they’ve been absolutely lights out versus lesser passers:
- vs. Eli Manning: 21-of-44 for 229 yards, 5.2 yards per attempt, 0 points allowed)
- vs. Cody Kessler: 25-43-240, 5.6 YPA, 9 PA
- vs. Josh McCown: 17-30-210, 4.3 YPA, INT, 22 PA
- vs. Josh Allen: 10-19-82, 4.3 YPA, INT, 12 PA
- vs. Blake Bortles: 21-34-155, 4.6 YPA, 6 PA
Washington receivers have caught just 15 touchdowns this season, tied for 28th in the league. And with Jordan Reed (2) out, Paul Richardson (2) and Trey Quinn (1) long gone to IR, and Kapri Bibbs (1) waived, Johnson will head to Tennessee without 40% of those touchdowns.
And as if Johnson’s options weren’t limited enough, this is a defense that specializes in bottling up running backs (second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric) and tight ends (fifth) in the passing game.
Those two positions just so happen to account for 54% of Johnson’s targets as a Redskin, a rate that would lead all NFL teams. — Chris Raybon
DFS edge: Corey Davis is technically a No. 1 wide receiver, but he’s had fewer than eight targets in 10 of his 14 games this season. This trend has been particularly pronounced since Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor returned to the lineup in Week 13.
Taylor (17 targets), Davis (16), Sharpe (11) and Dion Lewis (11) have been plenty involved in the Titans’ low-volume pass offense over the past three games.
Up next for Davis is a likely shadow date with Norman, who hasn’t exactly shut down the opponent’s No. 1 receiver on a regular basis this season. Julio Jones (7-121-1), Mike Evans (3-51-0), DeAndre Hopkins (5-56-1), Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0) and Odell Beckham Jr. (8-136-0) were largely able to produce in Norman’s shadow this season.
This isn’t entirely Norman’s fault: The Redskins’ zone-heavy scheme and unwillingness to let Norman travel into the slot (5% of snaps) has allowed opponents to scheme their No. 1 receivers into plenty of success.
The Redskins are one of just eight defenses that has allowed at least 75 receiving yards per game to the opponent’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Which team is healthier? Titans
The Redskins are one of the most banged-up teams in the league. Reed (ankle, foot) has already been ruled out, while Vernon Davis (concussion) and Josh Doctson (lower back) join offensive linemen Austin Howard (hip) and Tony Bergstrom (knee, ankle) as questionable.
The Titans have ruled out linebacker Brian Orakpo (elbow), but should otherwise be mostly healthy with the potential exception of Sharpe (ankle), who is questionable.
Bet to watch: Redskins +10
Stylistically, this game sets up similarly to the Redskins’ 16-13 win over Jacksonville last week: A low-scoring affair with two teams not very interested in throwing the ball. Tennessee is the clearly superior team, but it’s difficult to cover a large spread in a low-scoring slugfest.
The Redskins are getting a big number because they’re on their fourth quarterback, but let’s think about why we downgrade teams due to backup quarterbacks: 1) They are not as efficient at gaining yards, and 2) They are more likely to commit turnovers.
Though we’re obviously dealing in small sample sizes here, Johnson is actually averaging more net yards per pass (7.5) than both Alex Smith (5.9) and the team as a whole this season (5.7).
We were never dealing with a high bar to begin with as far as Redskins’ pass game, so it’s arguable exactly how much worse off Johnson makes them, if at all.
Couple that with the probable run-heavy nature of this game that essentially negates the likelihood of increased turnovers, and there’s a good chance Washington can keep this close. — Chris Raybon
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: Chargers -4
- Over/Under: 43.5
- Time: Saturday, 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NFL Network
Betting market: Despite the Chargers getting more than 60% of the tickets, the line has dropped from Chargers -4.5 to -4. That likely means respected money has come in on Baltimore.
Trends to Know: Baltimore is 8-6 but has outscored its opponents by 88 points, which is better than the Patriots and Texans, two teams with better records.
The Chargers are rolling. They are 11-3, have won four games on the spin and are in a battle with the Chiefs for the AFC West. However, Los Angeles has won its past three games by an average of just three points, so there is some luck at play.
Since 2003, teams who have won at least three straight games, with an average margin of victory of fewer than four points in those contests, are just 10-21 against the spread (32.3%).– Evan Abrams
The Ravens are allowing just 18.1 points per game this season, which is the best mark in the NFL. That would normally spell bad news for an opposing quarterback, but somehow Philip Rivers thrives against good defenses.
He is 24-12 ATS in 36 career games against defenses allowing fewer than 20 PPG in November or later. — Evan Abrams
Playoff picture: This is a massive game for both teams. Baltimore is currently the No. 6 seed, due to owning tiebreakers over Indy and Tennessee. Both of those teams are favored to win in Week 16; the Ravens are not, which is why our sims give them a less than 50% chance of making the playoffs.
The Chargers, meanwhile, still have a good chance to get the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. They’ll need Kansas City to slip up on Sunday night at Seattle, but that game will matter less if LA doesn’t take care of business on Saturday. — Scott T. Miller
Biggest mismatch: Ravens special teams edge
In a game that should be tight throughout between two teams playing their best football of the year, special teams could make all the difference in who wins this critical AFC matchup.
And the Ravens clearly have the more superior special teams unit, ranking sixth in Football Outsiders’ Special Teams DVOA to the Chargers’ 29th.
While Michael Badgley has improved LA’s kicking game, he’s still not the most accurate kicker in NFL history. That title belongs to Justin Tucker, who hasn’t missed a field goal all year that wasn’t blocked.
The biggest difference may actually be seen in the punting game, as the Chargers have one of the worst punting units in the league. LA ranks dead last in net yards per punt at a meager 36.8, which spells trouble against a Ravens team that ranks fourth in average net yards per punt return. And when the Ravens are forced to punt, they have ol’ reliable Sam Koch.
It’s no surprise that John Harbaugh has one of the best special teams units in the NFL this season, as the former Eagles special teams coordinator usually does. Baltimore should win the hidden yardage battle all game. — Stuckey
DFS edge: Since Lamar Jackson took over the starting job for the Ravens in Week 11, he’s been the most efficient fantasy quarterback, averaging 0.73 fantasy points per dropback, per Pro Football Focus.
Which team is healthier? Ravens
The Chargers will welcome back Melvin Gordon (knee) this week, although head coach Anthony Lynn didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement when he said, “Melvin’s practiced all week and he’s doing fine. I don’t know that he’s himself, but he’s going to play.”
Justin Jackson will work as the backup with Austin Ekeler (neck) listed as doubtful. Keenan Allen (hip) is questionable, but Adam Schefter has reported that Allen is expected to suit up.
The Ravens have listed tight end Nick Boyle (concussion), guard Alex Lewis (shoulder) as well as linebackers Matthew Judon (knee) and Anthony Levine (toe, ankle) as questionable.
Bet to watch: Ravens +4 and Under 43.5
The Ravens offense has undergone a fascinating midseason transformation from one of the NFL’s worst rushing offenses to one of the most prolific ground games we have ever seen.
Since Jackson took over under center, the Ravens have run the ball 233 times for 1156 yards (4.96 average) in five games. That comes to an average of 43.6 attempts per game, which is a single-season pace of 745.
Interestingly enough, that would break the single season record held by the 1977 Raiders (681). It’s also a pace of 3,699 yards, which would also break the single season rushing yards record held by the 1978 Patriots (3,165).
- Week 11 vs. CIN: Jackson 26 for 119 (Team 53 for 267) 19 passes
- Week 12 vs. OAK: Jackson 11 for 71 (43 for 242) 25 passes
- Week 13 vs. ATL: Jackson 17 for 75 (49 for 207) 26 passes
- Week 14 vs. KC: Jackson 13 for 71 (39 for 198) 26 passes
- Week 15 vs. Tampa: Jackson 18 for 95 (49 for 242) 23 passes
And it all starts with Jackson, who has rushed the ball 85 times for 431 yards (5.07 average). That’s a full season pace of 1379 yards, which would shatter Michael Vick’s single season QB rushing record of 1,039 yards (2006).
As a result, the Ravens have had a stunning total play advantage over their opponents during that stretch.
- CIN: 75-54
- OAK: 69-56
- ATL: 77-45
- KC: 68-83
- Tampa: 74-47
Baltimore has averaged 15+ more plays per game than its opponents. That is almost Army-esque.
That said, the output is certainly not sustainable, as the Ravens have benefited from a five-game stretch seeing five of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. However, I can say with full confidence the Ravens will at least keep up the rushing volume.
And they do get the benefit of playing another team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in rush defense DVOA (Chargers 18th).
You can run on the Chargers, especially up the middle. In fact, the Chargers don’t have a single interior defender ranked in the top 30 in run defense, per PFF — and Bosa/Ingram both rank outside the top 30 in run defense among edge defenders (min. 200 snaps).
Baltimore will run it 40+ times and have more success doing so.
On the other side of the ball, while the Chargers had zero top-30 interior run defenders, all three of the Ravens starting down linemen in their 3-4 scheme rank in the top 30: Michael Pierce, Brandon Williams and Brent Urban.
Not many casual fans know the name Michael Pierce, but he has been dominant. PFF actually ranks him in the top 5 among overall interior linemen.
- Aaron Donald 95.1
- Fletcher Cox 92.3
- Damon Harrison 92.1
- Akiem Hicks 91.4
- Michael Pierce 90.9
Just look at that company.
The Ravens’ interior defense, in addition to Pro Bowlers up the middle in C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle, is a major reason why they rank in the top five in yards per rush (3.8). They can slow down Gordon, who’s less than 100%.
I also think the Ravens can get to Rivers … frequently. Za’Darius Smith, not Bosa or Ingram, is actually the highest-graded pass rusher (80.2) in this game, per PFF.
The Ravens can really take advantage of a vulnerable Chargers offensive line that ranks 28th in pass blocking, per PFF. The Ravens can specifically take advantage of guards Schofield and Feeney, who PFF ranks as the 74th and 98th best pass blocking guards, respectively. Even Mike Pouncey comes in at a below average 20th among guards.
And the most exploitable matchup will come against RT Sam Tevi, who PFF ranks dead last in pass blocking among all tackles at a grade of 44.5 (min. 500 snaps). Judon and Smith should live in the backfield on passing downs.
The Ravens have the personnel in the secondary to slow down the Chargers’ passing attack, especially with Allen hobbled. This is the second-overall defense DVOA (and second vs. pass) vs. the second-overall pass offense DVOA.
The Ravens will cover this game in the trenches on both sides of the ball — and with an advantage on special teams. I’d also mention the Chargers don’t have a great home-field advantage and are in a similar spot as we saw at home against the Bengals after an improbable road comeback win at Pittsburgh in primetime. They didn’t cover that game, which also stayed under.
Well, now they come home after another improbable road prime-time win at Kansas City, which had to mean even more given their futility against their division rival. Despite this game also meaning a lot to LA, the Chargers could come out a little emotionally drained.
In regards to the total, the Ravens will stick to the run and it’s not like the they’ll be able to do much in the air against an excellent Chargers secondary.
On the other side, the Chargers are a snail. LA is the slowest team in NFL, averaging a league-high 30.26 seconds per play. Expect Rivers to be fighting the play clock all game (which will also help the Ravens pass rush). — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.