Another Thursday and another tough matchup to look into as the Los Angeles Chargers head to Las Vegas to face the Raiders. We thought that Mitch Trubisky vs. Bailey Zappe was one of the worst QB matchups of the season, but the NFL took that calamity and raised it one.
The Chargers were a 4.5-point favorite in the look-ahead line for this TNF matchup, however, the Herbert and Allen injury news moved the line by more than a touchdown and the Raiders opened as a field goal favorite.
The total has also shifted dramatically, with the look-ahead line opening at 42.5 before dropping as low as 33 earlier this week. We have since seen action on the over and most books have the total at 34.5 as of Thursday morning.
Find the best available odds for each side, moneyline, and the total for Thursday night's matchup below.
There are QB questions on both sides here, but we’ll start with the Chargers. With Justin Herbert being ruled out for the season with a broken fever, we’ll see Easton Stick slide under center for LA. The former NDSU QB will be without top receiver Keenan Allen in this one, another concerning sign for this Chargers offense as they have been unable to get anything going without Allen, even when Herbert was still playing.
On the Raiders side, HC Antonio Pierce has yet to commit to a starting QB for Thursday’s game, as starter Aidan O’Connell has been awful in place for Jimmy Garoppolo this year. Despite Pierce seemingly leaving it open, I have a hard time believing that the Raiders play Jimmy G. Pierce elected to stick with O’Connell through a brutal Week 14 matchup with the Vikings where the Raiders were held scoreless.
An article in the Athletic came out this week highlighting that if Jimmy G were to play this year and suffer a major injury, then the Raiders would be on the hook for an additional $11.25mil against the salary cap, in addition to his $28mil dead cap hit.
I don’t think the Raiders will take that risk just to be a bit more competitive in a playoff race that they’ve already played themselves out of. If we see a shift in QB it’s much more likely to be to Brian Hoyer, who was even worse as the original replacement to Garoppolo.
Also on the Raiders side, Davante Adams missed practice on Wednesday with an illness. It’s unclear if he too is checked out on the season and isn’t looking to play in this Thursday Night contest following his comments on the 3-0 loss as “embarrassing”. RB Josh Jacobs is likely to miss this game with a quad injury.
Since Antonio Pierce has taken over as HC for the Raiders the defense has performed surprisingly well as they are up to 16th in defensive DVOA despite ranking towards the bottom of the league under Josh McDaniels.
We thought that the Raiders would see a correction in the defensive numbers that were perhaps being propped up by weaker opponents, however, they performed well against both Kansas City and Miami, proving to be a sneaky good unit down the stretch.
I’m really not sure how either team generates offense in this one just given how poor the Raiders have looked. No dose of Brian Hoyer is going to bring any life to this passing game and I doubt the rushing attack will look any better missing their star RB Jacobs.
The total is already criminally low in this one at 34.5, ticked down from 35 following the Keenan Allen news. If I had to make a play it would be on the under, but I’m avoiding the high variance of Thursday Night games where it won’t take much to accidentally run into an over here.
Easton Stick didn’t look horrible filling in for Herbert in Week 14 and I’m interested to see what he can do against this Raiders secondary that has significantly raised their game. Stick was able to connect with Quentin Johnston on a long catch and the Chargers will also get WR Josh Palmer back.
Neither of these two will replace the production of Keenan Allen, but Stick won’t be weaponless out there and he seems willing to air out the ball. At this stage in the season, HC Brandon Staley has nothing to lose so I’m not expecting an overly conservative playcall with their inexperienced QB.
The only play here would be to take the upside with the Chargers, given that they might be able to have some semblance of a functioning offense versus the dumpster fire that the Raiders are on that side of the ball. For tracking purposes, we’ll take the Chargers +3 -100 for a 0.5% play.
I would look live at this one, especially if the Chargers are throwing the ball early and not connecting. A turnover could get the Raiders up early and perhaps allow for live looks at the Chargers as well as Easton Stick pass attempt props.
Worth a look: for those that missed it, we share our player prop picks for this matchup earlier in the week.
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