The Los Angeles Chargers will host the Las Vegas Raiders in an early AFC West showdown this Saturday (10/1/23). Get Raiders vs. Chargers odds, predictions and picks below as our best bet is over 48.5 points.
Raiders vs Chargers Prediction & Best Bet
Despite having one of the NFL’s most talented rosters at his disposal, Brandon Staley once again has the Chargers on the outside looking in when it comes to the field of actual contenders. They’ve lost two games by a total of five points, as trademark Staley late-game mismanagement cost them against the Dolphins and Titans. The Bolts secured a huge road win against the Vikings, who are dealing with some wild one-score game regression, and avoided an 0-3 start, usually the final nail in the coffin for teams looking to overcome a tough start. That being said, 1-3 isn’t a whole lot better, especially when that third loss comes at home in the team’s first divisional play matchup of the year, so this is an absolute must-win for Justin Herbert and company.
The Raiders are in something of a “bridge” year; with a talented offensive skill group and a veteran QB in Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s hard to call it a concerted tanking effort, but they are effectively one of the worst teams in the NFL. They picked up a key opening day win over the Broncos, which looked like a nice one at the time, but Denver is now 0-3, as they’ve also lost to the Commanders, and then allowed 70 points in a historic meltdown against the Miami Dolphins, so it’s hard to put too much stock in that victory. A blowout loss in Buffalo also doesn’t help the case, nor does a game in which the Raiders defense allowed the Steelers offense to look like a functional NFL unit; this game might be the final straw before the season turns into a legitimate, full-blown downward spiral, which could cost head coach Josh McDaniels his job.
Only one of these teams can avoid a disastrous 1-3 start, and as hard as Staley has made it for us to trust in his team’s talent, it has to be the Chargers. The win over Minnesota showed that it is at least possible, even if only by blind luck and inevitable regression, for this team to close out a tight game, which this one very well could be with the current state of the LA Defense. We’re not going to back the Chargers here, as the spread of 5.5 is a non-football number and this isn’t a team you trust to maintain a 60-minute show of dominance, but we’ll instead invest in the over. 48.5 is a pretty big number, but seven total touchdowns is a low bar in a game featuring Davante Adams, Justin Herbert, and two bottom-five defenses in the league by EPA.
Raiders vs Chargers Prediction & Best Bet: Over 48.5
Raiders vs Chargers Betting Odds
The Chargers are 5.5 point favorites at home and the total is 48.5, setting up a high scoring West coast matchup. You can bet either side of either number at -110 odds.
Raiders vs Chargers Key Injuries
The Chargers have a couple of key players questionable, star running back Austin Ekeler, and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Jimmy Garoppolo is currently in concussion protocol, while Maxx Crosby is limited.
Raiders vs Chargers Key Matchups
With plenty of offensive skill talent on both sides, these defenses, which have both struggled to start the year, could have their work cut out for them, so let’s look at some specific matchups and edges.
Raiders Rushing Offense vs. Chargers Run Defense
As good as the Raiders pass-catching group is, the key to staying in this game is making sure to establish the run via last year’s NFL rushing yards leader, Josh Jacobs. Running the ball well will set up the pass as well, and help Vegas stay away from third and long, not somewhere you want to be with either Jimmy Garoppolo or one of his backups. Jacobs has had a much slower start to the year averaging just 2.4 yards per carry, despite an above-average run blocking performance from Vegas, so they’ll need more from him.
This could be the game where he gets back on track, against a Chargers run defense that PFF ranks 29th in the league, and EPA thinks is just slightly better at 28th. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack have not been good enough off the edge as both are showing some wear and tear, and Kenneth Murray Jr. has been a total disaster at middle linebacker with a ghastly PFF grade of 38.9 on a team-high 78 run defense snaps, all of which is a huge reason I have the over in my Raiders vs. Chargers prediction.
Chargers Pass Catchers vs. Raiders Secondary
If Ekeler is out or active but limited, it will be absolutely imperative for LA’s pass catchers to put on a good performance. With Joshua Kelley not exactly commanding much respect, Vegas will be free to drop seven or eight defenders into coverage on most plays, especially on key passing downs. Keenan Allen could do the job, as he’s off to a great start to the year with 32 catches and well over 100 yards per game.
They’ll be running routes against a Vegas secondary that has been average at best throughout the first couple of games. Allowing Matt Canada’s passing offense led by Kenny Pickett to put up 235 yards and two touchdowns without turning it over is an enormous indictment, and it’s horrifying to think just how much worse it could be against a passer of Herbert’s caliber. Nate Hobbs has been fine at cornerback, but beyond him, it’s been a disaster with several full-time players grading at a 60 or worse in PFF’s system.