Thursday, December 17, 2020, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada, 8:20 p.m. ET
Chargers at Raiders Betting Preview: Chargers (+3.5), Raiders (-3.5)
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers (4-9) travel to Las Vegas for the first time with a chance to still catch third-place Denver (5-8) in the AFC West. It’s the 122nd regular-season meeting in the rivalry but the first in Sin City. Las Vegas holds a 65-54-2 advantage and has won the last three in a row, including a 31-26 win in Week 9.
The Chargers come in off a 20-17 home victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday as Michael Badgley connected on a 43-yard field goal as time expired for the winning points. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert completed 36 of 44 pass attempts for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while producing the first game-winning fourth-quarter drive of his career. Herbert needs just three more touchdown passes to surpass Baker Mayfield (27 in 2018) for most ever by a rookie, while favorite target Keenan Allen needs one reception to hit 100 for the second consecutive season and third time in four years.
Defensive end Joey Bosa has recorded a sack in five of his six career games against the Raiders but didn’t play in the first meeting at SoFi Stadium because of a concussion. It appeared that Los Angeles won that contest without him when Herbert hit tight end Donald Parham Jr. with a four-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game. However, the score was eventually overturned when a replay review showed that the ball touched the ground as Parham came down on the sideline chalk before establishing full control.
Las Vegas Raiders
After seeing his defense gashed for 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games, including 212 in a 44-27 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week, Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden decided to turn to defensive line coach Rod Marinelli for a quick fix to his very leaky defense. The 71-year-old Marinelli replaces Paul Guenther, who was fired as defensive coordinator shortly after Sunday’s loss to the Colts, on an interim basis. The Raiders (7-6) rank 30th in defense, allowing an average of 30.1 points per game and have allowed an average of 181.0 yards rushing over their last three games.
Besides the short turnaround, Marinelli also must deal with a cluster of key injuries to his defensive unit. Safety Johnathan Abram (concussion), cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion), linebacker Nick Morrow (concussion) and defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) all missed practice for Las Vegas on Tuesday while defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) was limited. Another starting safety, Jeff Heath, went on injured reserve last week, also with a concussion.
Offensively, quarterback Derek Carr comes in off his 23rd career 300-yard game (316) and threw two touchdowns in the loss to the Colts but also was intercepted twice. Darren Waller had seven catches for 75 yards and is 16 receptions shy of becoming the sixth tight end in NFL history to post 100 catches in a season. Josh Jacobs, despite being hampered by an ankle injury the past month, ranks fourth in the AFC with 831 rushing yards, and the ground game will be counted on even more Thursday after wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was placed on the COVID-19 list.
Chargers at Raiders Betting Pick for Week 15
After an impressive 6-3 start that included road wins at Kansas City (40-32) and Cleveland (16-6), the Raiders are a last-second 31-28 win at the winless New York Jets — thanks to a Gregg Williams’ coaching gaffe — from a four-game losing streak. The injury-ravaged defense has allowed an average of 37.5 points over that span.
Los Angeles has split its last four games and a big edge defensively ranking seventh in passing defense (217.1 avg.) and ninth in total defense (337.1). This is a must-win for Las Vegas if it wants to keep its playoff hopes alive but is the defense up to the task?
Chargers at Raiders Betting Pick:
Chargers 38, Raiders 30
Chargers at Raiders Best Bet for Week 15
The Chargers ran for 128 yards in the first meeting despite missing top rusher Austin Ekeler, and finished with 440 total yards and 26 first downs. Don’t be surprised if they surpass those numbers this time around against a Las Vegas defensive unit that is running on fumes.
Chargers at Raiders Best Bet: OVER 53.0