Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Date: Sunday, January 9, 2022
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Venue: Allegiant Stadium
This Sunday Night Football contest is for all the marbles. The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have identical 9-7 records heading into the season’s final week, and whoever wins this one punches their ticket to the postseason. The Raiders may have home-field advantage, but the betting market favors the Chargers ahead of this pivotal match.
This spread is identical to the one in Week 4, in which the Chargers won 28-14. The biggest difference is that the health of two of Las Vegas’ key offensive players leaves their participation in doubt. Darren Waller hasn’t played since the Raiders Week 12 contest against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving while dealing with a knee injury. Josh Jacobs is dealing with an injury to his ribs after running for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17. Consequently, both players are questionable heading into this must-win game. Derek Carr has been resourceful all season and will rely on his other weapons to move the Raiders downfield.
One of Carr’s favorite targets over the past few weeks has been Zay Jones. The former second-round pick has taken on an increased role with the Raiders since the team moved on from Henry Ruggs, starting eight of the past nine games. Jones has been a preferred target over the previous three games and should be in line for another strong outing. Carr has thrown to Jones at least eight times in each of the past three games, with the receiver totaling 20 catches on 27 targets for 237 yards. We’re expecting that recent trend to continue against the Chargers shoddy secondary and taking over 3.5 receptions and 46.5 yards on Jones’s receiving propositions.
With the uncertainty around Jacobs’s health, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Raiders lean into their passing game particularly, since it has been a weakness of the Chargers over the past few weeks. Los Angeles is giving up an average of 298.0 passing yards to their previous three opponents, two of which rank in the bottom half of the league in passing yards per game. Carr has thrown at least 31 passes in five of his past six games, with a running average of 36.0 pass attempts and 262.8 yards per game. We’re betting that Carr airs it out tonight and goes over 267.5 passing yards.
The Chargers will have an answer with Justin Herbert, who has thrived in hostile environments this season. The second-year quarterback is averaging 303.6 passing yards per game on the road this season, going north of 300 yards in five of those contests, including three straight. We’re expecting some regression from Herbert on Sunday night, as the Raiders have been one of the best pass defenses in the league this season. That’s been more evident over their recent stretch, limiting their previous three opponents to an average of 142.3 passing yards per game. That’s going to make it hard for Herbert to go over his passing prop total, and we’re taking under 278.5.
The Raiders have won four of their past six, covering the spread as underdogs in three of their past four. The Chargers have been favored on the road three times this season, and they’ve lost two of those games outright. As such, we’re betting that the Raiders keep things close, if not win outright in the final regular-season game of the year. We’re taking the points with the home side. Raiders +3.
All NFL game predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid