Week 14 of the NFL season gets underway Thursday with a matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders (-6, 44.5) and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The Raiders (5-7) have won three straight and are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the defending Super Bowl champion Rams (3-9) have lost six straight.
What can we expect froma betting standpoint for Thursday night's game?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan;fantasy and sports betting analystsEric Moody and Andre Snellings; and ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder, ESPN analyst Jason Fitzand Football Outsiders'Aaron Schatzprovide their top plays for the matchup.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
Marks: Las Vegas -6. The Raiders have won three straight, and their playoff hopes are still alive. Since Derek Carr's "sacrifice speech," this offense has turned it around, even without two of their best offensive players (Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow). Over the last four weeks, the Raiders offense is scoring on 45% of their drives (third-best in the league) and averaging 6.5 yards per play (second-best). Carr has tossed multiple TDs in five straight games. Since week 7, the Rams have generated 739 fewer passing yards than their opponents and been outscored by 60 points in the fourth quarter. LA is catching the Raiders at the wrong time.
Fulghum: Perhaps it was the Bobby Wagner effect, but the Rams finally played a competitive game against the Seahawks on Sunday. Now that the Rams have punted on this season, it seems like they're playing loose and free with players they need to determine are a part of the solution for next year or not. The Raiders, to me, are not a team that I want to lay 6 points with on the road. Before beating the Chargers last week in Vegas, the Raiders won back-to-back OT games on the road. Traveling on short rest for a Thursday night game is not a great situational spot given that context. Rams +6.
Fortenbaugh: I'd tease the Raiders from -6 to PK and pair them with either the Bengals PK (-6 vs. Cleveland) or the Eagles -1 (-7 at Giants). This Rams team is a mess. They've dropped six straight and eight of their last nine contests, with that lone win coming against a brutal Carolina Panthers squad. I know the Rams are technically the home team here, but wait until you see how much Silver & Black is in the stands on Sunday.
Fitz: Look, I'll do my best to take off my Raiders hat, shirt, sweats, socks and face paint as I type this. I like the Raiders in this game, but 6 points seems like too many. Josh Jacobs has been almost unstoppable running the ball up the middle, with 250 yards more up the middle than any other back in the NFL. The overall play of the line has drastically improved over the last few weeks, and running the ball is a patient part of the Raiders game plan. Remember, the Chargers stopped Jacobs for zero yards three times in the first quarter, but the team kept running. My biggest concern is Jacobs is beat up and coming off a huge workload. The Raiders offense has found its rhythm, but if Jacobs is even off a little this game could turn.
Snellings: Raiders -6. I just feel like the Raiders are playing with a goal, while the Rams are playing out the string. The Raiders have won three straight games, the last two against teams firmly in the playoffs hunt, and are finally starting to look the way I thought they would this season. All five of the Raiders' wins, even their two overtime victories, have been by at least six points. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a blowout.
Schatz: I will add to the chorus of Raiders -6 here. There's just a huge dropoff from Matthew Stafford to the duo of John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. The Rams' defense has also buckled since their bye week, ranking 26th in the NFL in DVOA since Week 8. And most of that time, they still had Aaron Donald in the lineup.
Moody: Raiders -6. Carr and Adams have been calibrated over the last five games and that could be enough to propel the Raiders to victory over an injury-riddled Rams team that ranks 31st in total yards per game (283.1) and 29th in points scored per game (16.8). Los Angeles' offensive line is also a mess. The Raiders are 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games.
The NBA season is here. Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Basketball today!Play for free
Fulghum: Worth a small play. The defense is a concern, but teams like the Jets and Ravens are hanging on by a thread. Due to the easy schedule, it's far from inconceivable for the Raiders to sneak in as a 6- or 7-seed.
Fortenbaugh: Pass. Those three wins came against the Broncos, Seahawks and Chargers -- not exactly the top tier of NFL competition. The 49ers and Chiefs are still on the schedule, not to mention a road date at Pittsburgh on December 24. Throw in the fact that Miami, the Jets, New England and the non-divisional winner from the AFC North all currently hold a higher standing than the Raiders and you've got a pass for me.
Fitz: To Joe's point, there are a couple tough games left on the schedule, although I don't think a road game against the Steelers is tougher than winning in Seattle and in Denver. The Jets become the team everyone's chasing, and I think asking for them to collapse while the Raiders roll makes this too much to overcome. But, in true "Dumb and Dumber" fashion, there's a chance. If the Raiders win Thursday, they (we? hahaha) get to 6-7 with the mini bye to get ready for a New England team that they can beat.
Schatz: No, I would not play the Raiders at +600. We currently have them only making the playoffs in 6% of our simulations, which would be closer to +1500. The Raiders are 23rd in DVOA which is far below the Jets (ninth) and Patriots (12th). The Raiders' schedule is harder than you think. They may only play two teams over .500, but they play two other teams (Patriots and Steelers) who are higher than the Raiders in DVOA. A Raiders playoff bet would be placing a lot of hope on the Chiefs not needing to play starters against Las Vegas in Week 18.
Marks: Adams over 88.5 receiving yards. Waller and Renfrow are not expected to be back in action until week 15, therefore another 12-target game is in Adams' future. The Rams play zone coverage 85% of the time, and Carr is great vs. zone (68% completion percentage, 7.2 yards per attempt and 13 passing TDs.) With a 44% target share the last two games, I expect Adams to be on the opposite end of that aerial attack.
Fitz: I'm with Anita. The Rams will do whatever it takes to try to slow down Jacobs, which means Adams will feast. Carr is more willing in the last few weeks to put the ball in danger to get Adams the chance to make a play, so I think his streak continues. Remember, last week only two WRs on the Vegas roster even saw a target.
Schatz: I'll take Jacobs over 20.5 receiving yards in part for similar reasons, because there aren't good weapons to throw to besides Adams. The Rams allow (opponent-adjusted) 37.5 receiving yards per game to running backs, which is higher than the NFL average. Jacobs had only six receiving yards last week but cleared 20 in his three previous games.
Moody: Jacobs has a difficult matchup against a Rams defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (96.7). I'd bet under on Jacobs' rushing yards prop but over on his receiving yards prop. He ranks sixth in the league among running backs with 331 receiving yards and seventh with 42 receptions. I'd bet the over on Adams' receiving yards. He has surpassed 88.5 receiving yards in four of his last five games.
Marks: Carr over 1.5 TD passes (-117). For all the reasons I mentioned above, along with Foster Moreau scoring two TDs in his last four games and facing a Rams defense that has allowed TEs to score a TD in five of their last six games. Moreau will be a great streaming option in fantasy this week with so many teams on a bye.
Fortenbaugh: I like the Las Vegas team total over 25.5 points. The Raiders are averaging 29.6 points per game over their current three-game win streak, rank top nine in the NFL in both scoring and yards per play and face a Rams defense that will be without Aaron Donald. Take note that L.A. has surrendered 26 or more points in five of its last six outings.
Fitz: Carr over .5 interceptions (-119). Clean games aren't really part of how this Raiders team wins, and Carr under pressure puts the ball in dangerous spots weekly. The Rams almost certainly take advantage of that, even in a game I think they lose.
Moody: Carr over 249.5 passing yards (-117). Over the last three games, the Rams' defense has allowed 301 passing yards per game. It bodes well for Carr against a Los Angeles defense without Donald. Four of Carr's last five games have seen him surpass 250 passing yards.