Breakdowns

Monday Night Preview: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

Here’s a preview of Monday night’s matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, courtesy of STAT Stack:

Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-1), 8:15PM ET 

Line: Chargers -3, Total: 51.5 

TWO THINGS THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Flashback to 2002

The last time the Raiders started 3-0 was in 2002, the year the franchise reached Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders would lose that Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…who were coached by current Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. That season, the Raiders were quarterbacked by Rich Gannon, who was named NFL MVP and finished the year with 4,689 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

While no one expected Derek Carr to compete for the MVP title this season, he has steadily moved up the board. In the preseason, Carr was outside the Top 20 and could be found at around 50-to-1 odds. After three straight wins to open the year and leading the league in passing yards coming into Week 3, Carr is now the 11th highest favorite to win the MVP award, with his odds moving up to around 20-to-1. A big performance over a division rival on Monday Football could propel Carr into the Top 10 or even higher, expectations that virtually no one had before the season. 

  • Cardiac Chargers 

If recent history is any indication, expect this to be a close game. Dating back to the start of 2020, 14 of the Chargers’ 19 games have been decided by 7 points or less. Last season, they just couldn’t seem to win those games, finding new and interesting ways to lose close contests and going 1-6 in their first seven such games. Since losing 45-0 to the Patriots in Week 13 of last season, the Chargers have won six of their last seven games – all but one of which have been decided by one score, including all three games this season. All told, the Chargers own a 7-7 record in their last 14 games decided by seven points or less.

TOP TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

  • The Not-So-Friendly Confines 

The Chargers have one of the worst homefield advantages in the NFL. They struggle to get fans through the gates and the opposing team is often very well-represented among the crowd. That has led to an unsurprising trend: the Chargers struggle to cover as a favorite at home. As a home favorite, LA is 3-10-1 against-the-spread over the past 14 games, including their only game this season in that position (a Week 2 loss to Dallas). These games have tended to be lower scoring, as well. Nine of the last 11 games where the Chargers were the home favorite have gone under the total, including each of the last four. 

  • One Trend Be Damned! But Not the Other One.

Despite the Chargers struggles against the number at home, the sharper bettors don’t seem to care. Although 52% of the bets placed are on the Raiders, 76% of the money has been bet on the Chargers, including sharp money (pro bettors), according to Action Network. The exact opposite is true when it comes to the over/under. The above trend suggests that this game should be lower scoring, and the sharp money agrees. While 69% of the tickets have been placed on the over, 71% of the money, including sharp action, has been bet on the under, according to Action. 

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

  • The Biggest Key to the Raiders Success 

In today’s NFL, the quarterback is the focal point of every team, and fans often base their decisions on how good teams are simply on how good the quarterback is. While that’s part of the Raiders’ story this season because Derek Carr has been very good, the other major factor is how they’ve impacted opposing quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, the Raiders rank 3rd in the NFL in pressure rate, getting heat on 44% of opponent drop backs. They are also doing it primarily with their front four and with the lowest blitz rate (9%) in the entire NFL. Both of the team’s defensive ends, Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, are among the Top 10 in the NFL at their position, according to PFF’s grading scale. Crosby’s 91.8 grade puts him in the “Elite” category, one of three defensive ends who are in that tier (T.J. Watt and Alton Robinson) through three weeks.

When opposing QBs can throw ball, they have to contend with another pair of Top 10 defenders at their position: cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Nate Hobbs. Hayward is one of three CBs with a PFF grade above 80, along with Marshon Lattimore & Jaylon Johnson. It is important to note that the Raiders haven’t exactly faced the stiffest competition. They have yet to face a QB rated in the Top 10 of PFF’s graded passers and this week’s opponent, Chargers QB Justin Herbert, is tied for 6th. Meanwhile the best offensive tackle they’ve had to contend with was Baltimore’s Patrick Mekari, who is rated 34th at his position. All of the other OTs they’ve faced are outside the Top 50, but this week they have to figure out how to get past Chargers rookie Rashawn Slater, PFF’s 18th-highest rated offensive tackle. Herbert played very well against the Raiders last year, completing 68% of his throws for 640 yards, 4 TD and no picks over the two meetings. This game may simply come down to which quarterback performs better. 

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