Chargers-Raiders Thursday night: NFL betting odds, picks, tips

ByESPN Betting Analysts ESPN logo
Thursday, December 14, 2023

Week 15 kicks off as the Los Angeles Chargers hit the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders in a matchup of AFC West teams with 5-8 records.

So what is worth betting? And what should you avoid?

Betting analysts Eric Moody, Seth Walder, Anita Marks, Tyler Fulghum and Aaron Schatz are here to provide their thoughts.

Note: Odds by ESPN BET.

Chargers at Raiders (-3, 34.5). It isn't very often that you see a team favored after being shutout at home four days earlier, but that's where the Raiders find themselves against the Justin Herbert-less Chargers team. How are you betting this one?

Marks: UNDER 34.5. Prime-time unders are hitting at 69% rate this season, and I'm going to continue to ride that trend, especially with two teams sporting backup QBs. Five of the past six Raiders games have gone under, and they might be without running backJosh Jacobs, making it difficult for them to move the ball. The Chargers will have Easton Stick at QB and even withJustin Herbertcouldn't manage more than 10 points in any of their past three games.

Fulghum: It sure isn't comfortable, but I'll take the Chargers +3. This is mostly a play against a Raiders team that (A) isn't very good and (B) is as banged up as it has been all season. We're not even sure who Antonio Pierce is going to play at quarterback. Will he continue to roll with Aidan O'Connell, or will he turn back to Jimmy Garoppolo? Regardless who is under center, Jacobs (knee) is in serious danger of missing this game. He has been the only reliable playmaker on offense all season. Los Angeles will be without Herbert, but running backAustin Ekeler looked healthy for the first time in a while last week on his way to 100 yards and a score, plus wide receiverJoshua Palmer is likely coming off injured reserve to help out.

Schatz: Stick is a huge question mark, but it's hard to imagine he's that much better than O'Connell. The Raiders do have the better defense in recent weeks, 13th in weighted DVOA compared to 26th for the Chargers. That plus home-field advantage has me leaning toward Raiders -3 even though the quarterbacks are such unknowns.

Walder:I doubt our expectations for Stick can be much different than they are for O'Connell. But that's why I lean Chargers +3. Are the Raiders really worthy of home-field advantage and then some to lay the full field goal? Especially given the short distance traveled? I don't see it. Neither does ESPN's Football Power Index, by the way, which has the Chargers as narrow favorites.

Do you expect the Chargers to be able to move the ball without Herbert?

Fulghum: Easton Stickcan extend plays and create with his legs. ReceiverKeenan Allen is dealing with a heel injury, but Austin Ekeler had his best game in a while and Josh Palmer is due back from IR. If I had to pick an offense to place my trust in Thursday night, the Chargers are the lesser of two evils.

Marks: No. I'm going with Chargers kicker Cameron Dicker OVER 1.5 field goals. This offense was struggling even with Herbert under center. The Chargers have not been able to find the end zone, so I expect opportunities for their kicker to put points on the board.

What's your favorite prop bet Thursday?

Moody: Austin Ekeler OVER 26.5 receiving yards. Stick could lean heavily on Ekeler as a receiver out of the backfield against the Raiders. This season, Ekeler has averaged 5.4 targets, 3.6 receptions and 34.4 receiving yards per game. He's well positioned to surpass those per-game averages with Stick under center Thursday night.

Schatz: The Chargers rank 29th in DVOA covering No. 1 wide receivers, with 9.0 targets per game. I don't trust the Raiders to get the ball toDavante Adamsdown the field, but I do believe he'll be open on short routes, so I like Davante Adams OVER 6.5 receptions (+105).

Walder: Khalil Mack UNDER 0.5 sacks (+125). Herbert's injury has a ripple effect that permeates even through player props on the other side of the ball. Because of the star QB's absence, the Chargers are underdogs Thursday, and underdogs are less likely to be ahead. The problem for Mack is that losing teams get fewer sack opportunities, because their opponents are forced into fewer desperate passing situations. Because of that and O'Connell taking sacks at only a slightly above-average rate (7.5%), I see value here: I make the under a slight -108 favorite.

Is there anything else you're playing Thursday?

Moody: Michael Mayer OVER 20.5 receiving yards. It's well known that in their loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, the Raiders gained only 202 yards, had three turnovers and had eight first downs. I don't anticipate Las Vegas being this horrendous Thursday night. However, this line seems very low for Mayer. As the Raiders' starting tight end, he plays a high percentage of offensive snaps. The Chargers' defense has allowed the sixth-most receiving yards to tight ends. As a starter, O'Connell has averaged 33 pass attempts per game.

Marks:Hunter Renfrow OVER 26.5 rec yards. As I mentioned earlier, the Raiders are tossing the rock a lot with O'Connell, and Renfrow's target share has increased over the past three games. There is chemistry between the two, and the Chargers' pass defense can be exploited by slot receivers.