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Raiders vs. Chargers Week 15: Where’s the Smart Money on TNF?

As the season nears its end, Week 15 kicks off with a Raiders vs. Chargers matchup, in which the teams will start a different quarterback than they started the season with.

This article originally appeared at FanDuel Research.

Week 15 kicks off with a matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) and the Las Vegas Raiders (5-8), the loser of which will secure sole standing at the bottom of the AFC West.

Neither team has legitimate playoff hopes, and a laundry list of injuries on both sides should make this a choppy game.

Justin Herbert capped off a disappointing year after sustaining a season-ending injury on Sunday, so Easton Stick will make his first career start for the Chargers.

Stick threw for 176 yards in the second half of last week’s game but failed to contribute any points. Keenan Allen (heel) did not practice on Monday or Tuesday, and his potential limitations would result in an even more muted Chargers passing game. However, this LA offense is averaging just 7.6 points across their last three games, meaning there are few places to go but up.

Aidan O’Connell will get another shot against the Chargers after losing his first career start against them in a Week 4 matchup. Though we haven’t seen much improvement from O’Connell since this 24-17 defeat, he may have to shoulder a bit more workload on Thursday night. Josh Jacobs (quad) is questionable to play, and it’s hard to replace the guy who’s been averaging 19.5 carries in games started by O’Connell.

While there’s not much on the line for either team, we did go into last week’s Thursday Night Football game expecting a not-so-invigorating matchup and ended up with a competitive contest.

The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET and can be streamed on Prime Video.

NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines may change after this article is published.

Chargers vs. Raiders Week 15 Betting Odds: Spread, Total, and Moneyline

  • Spread: Raiders -3.0 (-104)
  • Total: 34.5
  • Moneyline: Raiders: -154 | Chargers: +130
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Chargers vs. Raiders Week 15 Matchup Analysis

The Raiders are the deserved home favorites in this one. According to numberFire’s nERD-based power rankings, Las Vegas ranks 27th overall, made up of a 27th-ranked schedule-adjusted offense and 19th-ranked schedule-adjusted defense. Los Angeles ranks a few spots ahead at the 22nd spot, though we can’t take this ranking for its word on Thursday. The Chargers’ 29th-ranked D is saved by their 13th-ranked offense, but without Herbert and maybe even Keenan Allen, we can’t realistically expect an explosive offensive game from the Bolts.

I’d expect a Raiders game that favors the pass script. Though the status of Josh Jacobs isn’t set in stone, his absence would force Las Vegas to become less reliant on their run game, and this should be a great matchup for O’Connell to let the ball fly.

The Chargers have the eighth-worst pass defense in the NFL. They allow 261.9 passing yards (fourth-most) and 1.5 passing touchdowns (tied for eighth-most) per game. However, they are a pressure-heavy team, ranking second in sacks per game. In Week 4, O’Connell was sacked six times by Khalil Mack alone, but Las Vegas has been a bit more protective of their QB as of late, coming in with the 11th-lowest QB sacked percentage across their last three games.

O’Connell has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (four), plus he and Las Vegas put up a goose egg in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. And while Davante Adams has been wasting away on a bad team, the O’Connell-to-Adams connection is starting to flourish a tad more — Adams is averaging 10.8 targets and 73.5 receiving yards over his last four games. I’d look for this combo to get out ahead of the Chargers below-average secondary.

Even with Justin Herbert starting, the Chargers have managed just two touchdown scores across their last three games. Our sample size for Easton Stick couldn’t get much smaller, but we do know he’ll be playing a Vegas D that lets up the ninth-fewest points (19.9), 10th-fewest passing yards (207.7), and forced Joshua Dobbs to the bench on Sunday.

Maxx Crosby, the defensive standout for this Raiders team, is listed as questionable and has yet to practice this week. If Crosby can’t suit up, Stick and company will get a bit of leeway, but the Chargers’ offense should be put on the back of Austin Ekeler on Thursday.

Ekeler (injury) didn’t get a chance to face the Raiders in Week 4. Though his utilization in the run game has been muted across his last three games, he should be able to attack the seventh-worst-ranked Vegas rush D that gives up the eighth-most rush yards per game (127.4) and forces opponents to run the ball at the seventh-highest rate.

Despite the fact that the Raiders have the second-worst turnover differential in the league (-10), I’m keen on siding with the home favorites in this one. numberFire has Las Vegas coming out with a victory but failing to cover the spread, projecting this game to end up with a 22.68-21.98 Raiders win.

Raiders vs. Chargers Prop Bets

Austin Ekeler Over 78.5 Rushing + Receiving Yards (-114) / Any Time Touchdown (+170)

I’m all in on a mighty Austin Ekeler game. The Raiders have a solid pass defense and a vulnerable rush defense that gives up 4.4 yards per attempt (eighth-most), resulting in their opponents running the ball at the eighth-highest rate.

Without Ekeler, the Chargers gained 155 yards on the ground against the Raiders in Week 4, and Herbert’s absence should protect this volume.

Vegas allows running backs a total of 139.31 rushing and receiving yards per game. We should see Easton Stick utilize Ekeler in the passing game in a similar way that Herbert has this season. Ekeler’s -3.9 average depth of target proves he is the ultimate panic button option when opposing D’s are generating pressure, and he netted 53 total yards in the second half of last week’s game once Stick was put under center.

The Raiders allow the eighth-highest red zone scoring percentage (62.16%) in the league. Ekeler is rocking with a 60.5% red zone rush share and 16.0% red zone target share, so tagging him to reach the end zone seems like a solid move.

I’d also consider laddering Ekeler’s rushing props — you can get 40-plus rushing yards at -178, 50-plus at +102, 60-plus at +168, and 70-plus at +265. It’s probably best to cap the laddering off at 70 rushing yards. After all, Ekeler hasn’t reached this since the season opener, but I’m interested in the potential here.

Aidan O’Connell 200+ Passing Yards (+102)

O’Connell netted 238 passing yards against the Chargers in Week 4 and has cleared the over on this prop in four out of his six starts. The two occasions in which O’Connell did not reach 200-plus passing yards came against pass D’s that rank in the top 12.

The Chargers have allowed opposing QBs to throw for 200-plus yards in 11 of their 13 games this season, giving up an average of 261.9 passing yards (fourth-most).

O’Connell has been throwing the ball at a super high rate as of late, averaging 35.3 passing attempts over his last three games. I wouldn’t expect this number to take a hit if Josh Jacobs is ruled out for this contest, and the Chargers allow the third-most completions on the road (26.2). I’d even give O’Connell 225-plus Passing Yards at +200 a gander.

— Annie Nader

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