Raiders vs. Chargers Odds, Picks, Predictions, Spread: Find Betting Edge For Monday Night Football Over/Under
Getty Images. Pictured: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, Raiders QB Derek Carr
|Moneyline||+150 / -170|
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
The Raiders are a surprising 3-0 off the strength of an offense averaging 30.0 points per game, sixth in the NFL. Can they keep it going against the 2-1 Chargers, who are fresh off a 30-24 upset of the Chiefs last week?
Raiders, Carr Must Beat the Blitz for Success
Derek Carr has been playing excellent ball for the Raiders. He’s averaging 8.8 yards per pass attempt and 401.0 passing yards per game with six touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley’s defense may have the recipe to slow him down, though: Get pressure without blitzing. According to Pro Football Reference advanced stats, the Chargers rank sixth-highest in pressure percentage (27.6%) while blitzing at the sixth-lowest rate (18.1%).
Carr has mashed teams that have blitzed him to the tune of 11.2 yards per attempt and a 6.5% touchdown rate, per Pro Football Focus. When not blitzed, Carr drops to 7.7 yards per attempt and a 3.3% touchdown rate. And when under pressure, Carr’s completion percentage falls to 45.9% compared to 71.7% when kept clean.
Because Staley often chooses to play coverage and keep two safeties deep, his defense tends to invite the run. That has played out from an efficiency standpoint, as the Chargers are ranked 15th in Football Outsiders‘ pass-defense DVOA but 31st against the run. Even with the potential return of Josh Jacobs (questionable — toe) and Peyton Barber coming off a 100-yard rushing performance last week, it’s debatable how much the Raiders will be able to truly exploit the Chargers on the ground, as Las Vegas ranks 28th in yards per carry (3.4) and 30th in rushing DVOA.
The Chargers front did take a hit, in theory, when Kenneth Murray injured his ankle in practice and was later ruled out. Murray wasn’t playing particularly well, however, ranking 57th of 78 qualified linebackers with a 49.0 PFF grade.
Can Chargers Neutralize Vegas Pass Rush?
Like Carr, Justin Herbert has made defenses pay if they blitz. On 33 blitzed attempts, Herbert has completed 75.8% of his passes for 9.3 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and zero interceptions while only taking one sack. On 93 attempts when not blitzed, Herbert dips to a 67.7% completion rate, 7.0 yards per attempt with four touchdowns, three interceptions and four sacks.
Unfortunately for Herbert, he shouldn’t expect many blitzes from Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Under Bradley, the Raiders rank dead last in the NFL in blitz rate, sending extra rushers at the opposing quarterback only 9.4% of the time.
Thanks to elite play from defensive end Maxx Crosby, who leads the NFL with 25 total pressures, the Raiders are in the top half of the league in pressure rate (24.6%) despite eschewing the blitz. Herbert created numerous big plays under pressure as a rookie, averaging 7.6 yards per attempt with a 13-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. This year those big plays have dried up, however, as he’s averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt with one touchdown on 26 attempts while being dropped for five sacks.
The matchup of Crosby on right tackle Storm Norton could be particularly problematic. Through three weeks, Norton has allowed 12 total pressures, tied for sixth-most among tackles. His PFF pass-blocking grade of 67.0 ranks 67th of 70 qualified tackles. Starting tight end Jared Cook is 34 years old and has only been called upon to pass block on 6% of his pass snaps, so the Chargers may be forced to go with more heavy personnel on early downs so they can get the superior pass-blocking tight end, Donald Parham, in the game.
Bradley’s defense has been underrated overall: It ranks fifth in early-down rushing success rate (40%) and 10th in early-down passing success rate (48%), according to Sharp Football Stats. Early-down run defense could be key, as most of Austin Ekeler’s success has come on first down, where he’s averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 23 attempts compared to 3.5 yards per carry on second and third down. The Raiders have snuffed out first-down runs to the tune of 3.7 yards per carry allowed, so this could be a bit of a slog for the Chargers offense.
Both teams match up well here, so I see no value in the spread at the key number of 3. However, the under sets up as a strong play.
Both of these teams have made strides from last season in terms of their defensive scheme. Both defenses will sit back in coverage, forcing the offenses to sustain long drives in order to score. There are also question marks about each team’s run game and ability to overcome pressure on the quarterback.
Pick: Under 51.5 (to 51)