Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Will the Chargers and Raiders Light Up the Scoreboard?
Sadly, Thursday Night Football continues to follow the same patterns — it’s a bit of a dud of a game following up the Monday Night Football showdowns we have seen.
According to our schedule-adjusted metrics, this could be some ugly football tonight. Despite a 7-6 record, the home Las Vegas Raiders are ranked 26th overall by our numbers, and the road Los Angeles Chargers are slightly better at 17th.
Let’s dive into what our model thinks could be some intriguing betting angles for this contest.
The Offenses May Win Out
These two teams already met once, and it didn’t disappoint. The Raiders held on with a goal-line stand to finish the game, and a lot of points were scored in a 31-26 shootout. Tonight, we should be able to expect more of the same with an over/under way up at 52.5 points, per FanDuel Sportsbook. The over has been a smash play in Raiders games, hitting in 10 of their 13 games, and these are two solid offenses going against meh defenses.
Rookie sensation Justin Herbert has taken over for the Bolts since Week 2, and he’s looked great. In his inaugural season, Herbert owns a Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back of 0.17, better than the league average. Veteran Derek Carr has been strong, too, notching a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.16 this season.
Defensively, Vegas is the second-worst defense by our numbers, so even though the Chargers may be short-handed tonight at receiver — with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen banged up — Herbert should be able to put up some points, especially on the ground with Austin Ekeler, who gets to take on what we have as the league’s worst run D.
The Raiders opened as 3.5-point favorites despite losing their last three games, including an ugly defeat to the Indianapolis Colts a week ago, and the line has held steady. Per our oddsFire tool, the betting public is siding with the Raiders — 72% of bets and 78% of cash have come in on the home team. And this one is critically important to Vegas’ chances staying in line for a playoff berth.
Bets to Consider
Our algorithm doesn’t see any betting value on the spread. It predicts a close game with a projected Raiders win of 25.47-21.79. That leads our model to forecast neither side to cover greater than 50% of the time.
Our algorithm doesn’t love the over, either. It predicts the under to hit 68.35% of the time, making it one of the better bets of the night.
As far as props, Ekeler is a good place to look. Our model has Ekeler rushing for nearly 61 yards, and his rushing yards prop at FanDuel Sportsbook is at only 55.5, with even -110 odds on both sides.
We can peep Ekeler’s receiving yards prop (42.5 yards), as well. He went for 9 catches and 67 receiving yards a week ago, garnering the second-most targets on the team. With Williams likely out and Allen looking less than 100%, the passing game should run through Ekeler and Hunter Henry. Since coming off the shelf, Ekeler has a 23% target share, per AirYards.com, which ties Allen for the team lead.
Historical Betting Trends
— These teams are somewhat similar from an against-the-spread (ATS) perspective in 2020. Las Vegas is 7-6 ATS, and Los Angeles is 5-7-1.
— The over has hit in 10 of the Raiders’ 13 games this season, and it’s also hit 8 times in the last 10 road games for the Chargers.
— Since coming back from injury, Austin Ekeler is tied with Keenan Allen for the team lead in target share (23%).