- Mar 6, 2018
Best bets for Monday Night Football: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles ChargersESPN PLUS $ MATERIAL
The Los Angeles Chargers will host the Las Vegas Raiders to wrap up Week 4 on Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN).
ESPN betting analysts Eric Moody, Joe Fortenbaugh and Anita Marks, ESPN Analytics' Seth Walder and Aaron Schatz from Football Outsiders have teamed up to offer up their best bets.
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Sunday, unless otherwise noted.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3, 51.5)
Moody: Back in Week 1, Darren Waller stockpiled an amazing 19 targets, 10 receptions and 105 receiving yards against the Ravens. Over the past two games, he's averaged 7.5 targets and 59.5 receiving yards. Now Waller faces a Chargers defense that was torched by tight end Travis Kelce last week. Kelce caught 7 of 11 targets for 104 receiving yards. As a reminder, Waller amassed 150 receiving yards against the Chargers last December. This is definitely the type of performance we could see on Monday Night Football.
Henry Ruggs III has averaged 95.5 receiving yards per game over the past two weeks. He accumulated 13 targets over that time with an average of 16.2 receiving air yards per target (completed plus uncompleted passes measured from the line of scrimmage). Ruggs can be very productive on limited targets. The Chargers gave up 62 receiving yards to Terry McLaurin back in Week 1 and 95 to CeeDee Lamb in Week 2. Ruggs has been used all season in an assortment of ways, both near the line of scrimmage and as a vertical weapon downfield. This trend will continue against the Chargers.
Austin Ekeler has a reputation of being a dual-threat running back. However, he's been more productive as a receiver out of the backfield, rather than as a runner. Ekeler has averaged 52 receiving yards per game and 9.4 receiving yards per reception in his 29 active games since 2019. Over the past two games, he's caught all 15 of his targets for 113 receiving yards. Ty'Son Williams, Najee Harris, and Myles Gaskin have averaged 3.6 receptions and 27 receiving yards per game against the Raiders defense this season. Ekeler has a good chance to exceed those per-game averages in Week 4.
Picks: Waller over 68.5 receiving yards, Ruggs over 43.5 receiving yards, Ekeler over 34.5 receiving yards
Fortenbaugh: The weak spot for the Chargers this season has been their inability to convert in the red zone, as only 46.6% of the trips inside their opponent's 20-yard line have resulted in a touchdown (25th in NFL). Guess what? The Raiders are one of only three franchises entering Week 4 which has surrendered a touchdown every single time their opponent has entered the red zone. That's outstanding news for Los Angeles.
Pick: Chargers -3
Walder: Brandon Staley's defense is famous for prioritizing stopping the pass -- and that's an issue for a Raiders offense that is heavily reliant on throwing the ball. The Raiders rank third in total EPA on pass plays and dead last in EPA on rushing plays (at -12.9). Even if Josh Jacobs is back, it's hard to imagine that unit being great. The Raiders rank 31st in run-block win rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. As a result, I expect the Chargers will be able to limit Las Vegas' scoring.
Pick: Raiders team total under 24.5 (-120)
Schatz: These teams' early rankings in our DVOA ratings will surprise you. Las Vegas is the lowest of the 3-0 teams at No. 14, but that's still higher than the Chargers, who are just 22nd overall. That sounds wild since they beat the Chiefs, but that was a very close win. Overall for the season, the Chargers have actually been outgained by opponents on a per-play basis, 6.0 yards to 5.9 yards.
Based on a per-play breakdown (and even if we adjust for playing the Chiefs in Week 3), the Chargers have played down to Football Outsiders' mediocre preseason projections, which were much lower on the team than conventional wisdom. Are they better than the Raiders? Probably. But do you want to bet they are 3.5 points better, when the Raiders have been the better team so far this season?
Pick: Raiders +3.5
Marks: Both quarterbacks in this game are having a career year, especially in terms of explosive passing plays. Justin Herbert currently ranks No. 1 overall in completion percentage of passes over 15 yards. This will be the first true test for the Raiders' defense against a strong passing quarterback (Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, Jacoby Brissett), and the Chargers also have one of the better backfields with Ekeler. He should be able to take advantage of the Raiders, who are allowing the most explosive rushing yards per game. It should also be noted that the Chargers managed to hold both the Cowboys and Chiefs to under 251 passing yards in back-to-back weeks.
Picks: Chargers -3, Herbert over 2.5 TD passes (+165 on DraftKings), Ekeler over 55.5 rushing yards (-110), Mike Williams over 71.5 receiving yards (-115), Hunter Renfrow over 4.5 receptions (-130)