Thursday Night Football Picks: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders Predictions
- After firing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther this week, the Raiders will be without four defensive starters due to various injuries
Coming off just their second win in seven weeks, the Chargers head to Las Vegas to face a stumbling Raiders team that has lost three of four themselves, with their only win in that span coming via the infamous late Henry Ruggs touchdown that got Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams fired for his blitz call. One week later, the Raiders have fired their own defensive coordinator, as their once promising season looks likely to end without a postseason berth.
With Paul Guenther out, the Raiders will turn to Rod Marinelli to lead the defense. On a short week, he’ll have little time to make any significant changes, and the Raiders are down four starters on the defensive side with end Clelin Ferrell, linebacker Nicholas Morrow, cornerback Damon Arnette, and safety Johnathan Abram all out. That’s a big boost to Justin Herbert and the Chargers, though on their side Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams are all questionable. Williams left Week 14 early and seems to be the only one in danger of missing the game, though he did get limited practices in both Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Chargers won last week on a late field goal against the Falcons, a bit of a change for one of the league’s worst teams in late-game situations. It actually looked like another back-breaking loss after they turned the ball over in a tie game with a minute left, but they found themselves on the positive end of some late-game luck when Matt Ryan threw an interception back to them, setting up the game-winner. There was no other way for a matchup between the Chargers and Falcons to end.
After getting off to a hot start in his first few NFL starts, Herbert has cooled a bit of late. But this matchup is one he should be able to exploit, and you can understand the high total here. These two teams rank 31st and 32nd in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA, and they both rank in the bottom half versus the pass, as well. There’s a bit more upside to the Chargers’ pass defense, though, as they’ve limited each of their eight opponents since the bye to fewer than 250 net passing yards and a healthy Joey Bosa has 14 quarterback hits since his return to the lineup four games ago.
The Raiders will also be without Henry Ruggs on the offensive end, which limits their ability to stretch defenses. Nelson Agholor has taken over as their No. 1 wide receiver behind top receiving weapon Darren Waller, but Ruggs’ speed adds an element to the offense that can help open up passing lanes, so his absence is probably a bit bigger of a deal than his stats suggest.
Josh Jacobs has also continued to battle an ankle injury that could limit his effectiveness. I like this game to be a high-scoring one, but with all the uncertain skill position health situations, it’s tough to take the over on a high total. Thus, as hard as it is to back the Chargers knowing every one of their games gets wild down the stretch, I like getting them at +3.5. I expect them to hang with the Raiders, and like getting the points in case they do find a way to lose a close one by a late field goal in typical Chargers fashion.
NFL Expert Picks
1u - Chargers +3.5 @ -105
NFL Free Picks
What a Week 15 we have in store. It's not a blockbuster week for the traditional primetime slots. Thursday Night Football gives us the Chargers at Raiders, Sunday Night Football is Browns at Giants and Monday Night Football sees the Steelers travelling into Cincy to face the Bengals. While those games may not be fantastic the fact we have two Saturday games. First up is Bills at Bengals, followed by Panthers at Packers. Outside of those games we have some interesting clashes elsewhere. The Seahawks enter Washington as favorites but it'll be a tough ask against a defense who are really coming into form. The Eagles are giving Jalen Hurts another chance to perform against the Cardinals in a battle between two former Sooners quarterbacks. We also have the Chiefs against the Saints. It's going to be a fun week of football.
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