Fabian cashed with Seahawks -3 last week to move on to 6-2 on the season with his Matchbook Insights columns. He’s aiming for win no.7 this week by attacking a West Coast total in Los Angeles.
This week we are getting a beautiful setup for a high-scoring game in an AFC West matchup – Raiders at Chargers.
We’ve got two high-octane offenses going at each other in the dome and on the fast turf, complemented by questionable defensive play on either side.
The NFL scoring average per game is 50.4 this season – even the Thursday Night Football game between the Packers and Niners found a way to go over the total despite a poor game script and San Francisco throwing to practice squad receivers. I don’t think the number for this game should only lay 1 or 1.5 points north of the league-wide average.
Justin Herbert is the real deal.
Since he suddenly took over in week two, the Chargers have been averaging 0.19 EPA/dropback, which ranks 12th in the league. Their Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPOE) is at 4.13% which ranks 6th.
Their success rate of 49.8% ranks slightly below average which points towards a weaker consistency but higher big play ability.
Over the past four weeks, the Chargers have scored 27 or more points in each game and had at least a 16-point lead in each of them, before blowing that lead every time.
If you exclude high win probability game states by filtering out all the plays below 5% or above 95% of win probability,
Herbert ranks 4th in EPA/dropback over that stretch. He’s absolutely bombing opposing offenses right now before his defense breaks down and the coaching staff goes with a more conservative approach on offense.
The Raiders defense is one of the worst in the league, ranking 26th in EPA/dropback, 31st in EPA/rush, and 31st in total DVOA, among the common efficiency metrics. To make matters worse, Las Vegas will be without its best pass rusher on the defensive line – DT Maurice Hurst, who leads all defensive linemen with an 81.5 pass rushing grade by a landslide.
There is really nothing the Raiders can throw at the Bolts offense that prevents them from marching down the field on the ground or through the air.
Watch for chunk plays on the ground and play-action bombs down the field to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton.
We should expect the Chargers to score in the 27-30 range easily.
Enter the Raiders.
I really like how this passing offense is designed by Jon Gruden.
They have been putting up decent numbers since the start of last season.
Betting on Derek Carr against strong defenses is not my favorite thing to do, but this offense should have success against the Bolts.
Remember the 5/95 win probability split from before over weeks 5-8? Derek Carr ranks 3rd in EPA/play over that stretch. Vegas has put up borderline top-10 pass efficiency numbers over the course of the season.
The Chargers defense is not good by any means and you saw that when they collapsed in each of their four recent games.
Earlier in the week, they traded away slot cornerback Desmond King who has the best coverage grade among all Chargers cornerbacks this season at 74.6.
DE Joey Bosa, their best pass rusher, is in the concussion protocol and hasn’t practised on Wednesday and Thursday.
That’s a strong sign that he’s not going to play this week. Against Denver, when he left the game, the Chargers weren’t able to generate any pressure on Drew Lock behind a much worse offensive line than what the Raiders will bring to the field this week.
Even if RT Trent Brown does not play after re-entering the COVID list.
I don’t see how the Chargers defense is able to prevent the Raiders from scoring.
Even if the Bolts look good on defense early on, they have shown us a strong tendency to play soft with a lead and invite opposing offenses to move down the field. And after those collapses recently, I fully expect Anthony Lynn to keep pressing the gas pedal with a lead to avoid another meltdown.
This game is beautifully set up to go over the total.
- OVER 52.0 -101 (1.99)