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NFL Week 15: Chargers-Raiders TNF Prediction

Hunter Renfrow

Week 14’s NFL action was amazing.

Now we are heading into Week 15, and there is no reason why it won’t be just as action-packed. It all starts with the Chargers and Raiders on Thursday Night Football.

TNF has Justin Herbert and the Chargers heading to Las Vegas, and the NFL odds show LAC as 3.5-point underdogs in Vegas. But should the Chargers be getting more than a field goal against the Raiders.

When we look at the power ratings, the Las Vegas Raiders are -2.0, and the Los Angeles Chargers are -4.3. If you’re not familiar with how power rating works, the significance of these numbers is different from power rankings. They mean that the LV Raiders should lose to an average football team (at the moment, that would be the Falcons) by two points if they meet on a neutral field. So, with a power rating of -4.3, that means the Chargers should lose to the Falcons by roughly 4 points in a neutral setting. As you saw this weekend, the Chargers beat the Falcons, but that was in Los Angeles. Still, if you go by the ratings, the Chargers should have been 1-point underdogs at home against the Falcons.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) has the LV Raiders -1.2 and the LA Chargers -4.6. So, ESPN gives the Raiders a bit more love and the Chargers a little extra dislike. I tend to lean on TeamRankings power ratings more so than ESPN’s FPI; that said, I like to consider both and sometimes split the difference depending on how I feel about the matchup.

No matter which one we go by, we end up with the Chargers actually seeming a bit overvalued by the sportsbooks. 4.3 – 2 equals 2.3. Then when we give the Raiders a field goal for home-field advantage, we end up with an initial point spread of five points. If we were to use ESPN as our power rating stat, we are starting with 3.4 points before adding a home-field advantage. So, we would see a 6.4 spread. Round up on the hook, and we should have a 6.5 point spread.

So, going by TeamRankings and even splitting the difference a bit, this point spread should be the Raiders -5.5.

Statistical Analysis

On any given day in 2020, the Raiders score 26.92 points per game. So, essentially 27 points on average. This is good enough for the 11th best offense in the league. On the flip side, the Chargers score 22.85, which is the 22nd best. However, Herbert does toss for 270 yards per game, the No. 4 passing offense in the NFL.

Let’s add in the situational offensive stats. The Raiders play even better at home, which is why we give three points on most occasions to the home team. They score 28.67 while in Vegas and control the clock, holding the No. 4 time on field stat at home. Conversely, the Chargers have played better on the road, scoring a point more at 23.67 per game but still exactly 5 points worse than the Raiders in this situation.

The Chargers allow 28 points per game while out on the road, and the Raiders have been soft as velvet defensively in Vegas, letting 31.67 per game get by. Their home secondary has been full of holes, allowing 299.67 yards per game. This number is bad enough to give the Raiders the No. 31 home passing defense (not great considering Herbert has a Howitzer of an arm).

I do believe that the adjustment to the spread is correct. 3.5 is right on the money. If we just looked at offenses, 5 to 5.5 points is where it should be. But the Raiders play worse on defense at home, which negates that 3-point advantage and leaves us back at the 2-point power rating difference we started with.

The TNF Prediction

I do think the Raiders will most likely win this game, but it will likely come down to a field goal. The hook the Chargers are getting that key number is enough for me to want to take them to get the backdoor cover on TNF.

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