Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Las Vegas Raiders (4-7)

The Chargers are 6-5, but their six wins have come by a combined 24 points, while their five losses have come by a combined 54 points, giving them a point differential of -30. They’re even worse in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 27th in the NFL, about four points below average, which is more predictive than point differential. They got talented wide receiver Keenan Allen back from injury a couple weeks ago, but they still remain without their other talented wide receiver Mike Williams, stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, talented starting center Corey Linsley, expected top cornerback JC Jackson, and stud edge defender Joey Bosa, who would be among their best and most important players if healthy.

The Raiders are missing a pair of key offensive playmakers, tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfroe, but their defense gets back their top cornerback Nate Hobbs from a 6-game absence this week, a big boost for a unit that got a big boost a few weeks ago when top linebacker Denzel Perryman returned after missing 3 games. They also have a better point differential (-11) than the Chargers, despite being a couple games behind them in the standings. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Raiders rank 20th, 2.5 points above the Chargers, and they have a 5-point edge over the Chargers in my roster rankings as well.

Despite that, the Raiders are only 1-point favorites at home. My calculated line suggests they should be favored by 4, so we’re getting great line value with them at -1. The only reason this isn’t a bigger play is because the Raiders are coming off of back-to-back overtime games, a spot in which teams cover at just a 40.6% rate all-time, but that’s over a sample size of just 33 games, so it’s not enough to convince me not to bet on the Raiders at least somewhat. This isn’t a big play, but the Raiders are still worth a bet.

Las Vegas Raiders 24 Los Angeles Chargers 20

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -1

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (5-5) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7)

This game is a tough call. I think both of these teams are overrated and not as good as their record. The Chargers are 5-5, but their five wins have come by a combined 23 points, while their five losses have come by a combined 54 points, giving them a point differential of -31 which ranks 23rd in the NFL. They’re even worse in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 27th, about five points below average, which is more predictive than point differential. They’re getting a little bit healthier with talented wide receiver Keenan Allen returning last week, but they also remains without their other talented wide receiver Mike Williams, stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, expected top cornerback JC Jackson, and stud edge defender Joey Bosa, who would be among their best and most important players if healthy.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are 4-7 with a -56 point differential, fourth worst in the NFL, despite a +3 turnover margin, which is not consistent week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, they rank 25th, about four points below average, and they are even worse in my roster rankings, about 7.5 points below average, as injuries continue to mount, primarily on the offensive line, where they are missing four expected starters. Meanwhile, their defense is also without top cornerback Byron Murphy.

I’m going to take the Chargers in this game for pick ‘em purposes for two reasons. One is that this line favors the Chargers by 2.5 and, while that’s right where I have this line calculated, the single most likely outcome of this game is the Chargers winning by exactly a field goal, as they are the better team and field goals are the most common margin of victory. On top of that, the Chargers tend to be better than expected on the road, as a result of their lack of homefield advantage in Los Angeles, going 27-16 ATS on the road since moving in 2017, as opposed to 17-27 ATS at home. This is a no confidence pick, but the Chargers seem like the better side. I would probably take the Cardinals at +3 though. That’s how close this one is for me.

Los Angeles Chargers 31 Arizona Cardinals 28

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -2.5

Confidence: None

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)

The Chargers are 5-4, but their only win by more than one score came by 10 points against arguably the worst team in the league in the Houston Texans, while two of their losses came by 14 points or more, giving them a point differential of -28 (23rd in the NFL). That’s despite a +2 turnover margin, which is not predictive, and they are even worse than that in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 30th, 5.5 points below average, which is much more predictive than turnover margin. 

The biggest problem for the Chargers has been their injuries, with stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among others, all out for extended periods of time. It seems like Allen and Williams could return this week, after practicing throughout the week, but they only practiced in a limited fashion and they are returning from injuries that have cost them seven games and two games respectively, so it’s far from a guarantee that they’ll play, that they’ll play at full strength, and that they’ll play the full game.

With Allen and Williams at least somewhat likely to return in some fashion, the Chargers are only 1.5 points below average in my roster rankings, which isn’t great, but it’s better than where they are in schedule adjusted efficiency. However, the Chiefs still fare much better in both, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 8 points above average, and 4th in my roster rankings, about 9 points above average. Not only do the Chiefs rank 3rd in the NFL in point differential at +64, but they have done it despite a -4 turnover margin, which should improve going forward.

The Chargers also have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, which has been the case since they arrived in the city in 2017, as they lack a local fanbase. As a result of largely playing in front of crowds that favor the road team, the Chargers are 16-27 ATS at home since moving in 2017, as opposed to 27-16 ATS on the road. Chiefs fans especially show up to games in Los Angeles and, unsurprisingly, the Chargers are 1-3 ATS against the Chiefs in Los Angeles. I want to wait on the status of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen before locking in a bigger bet, but getting the Chiefs as just 5-point favorites in what amounts to a neutral site game against a still banged up Chargers team seems like a great value. This is a medium confidence pick for now, but could end up as a high confidence pick.

Kansas City Chiefs 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -5

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

The 49ers are favored by a touchdown at home against the Chargers, which might seem like a lot if you look at these two teams’ records, but neither team’s record tells the whole story. The Chargers are 5-3, but their only win by more than one score came by 10 points against arguably the worst team in the league in the Houston Texans, while two of their three losses came by 14 points or more, giving them a point differential of -22. The Chargers are even worse than that in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 27th, 4.5 points below average.

The Chargers had a lot of promise coming into the season, but injuries have been a huge problem for them, leading to them ranking significantly below average in my roster rankings as well, 3.5 points below average, which largely lines up with schedule adjusted efficiency. While center Corey Linsley has returned, the Chargers this week will be without stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Wallace, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among other lesser injuries.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are getting healthier coming out of their bye week. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle, and left tackle Trent Williams are all among their best offensive players and all missed time earlier this season, but all three will play this week, a huge boost for an offense that also got a big boost from adding Christian McCaffrey in a trade a few weeks ago. The 49ers’ defense is also getting healthier out of the bye, with linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair and safety Jimmie Ward returning to action.

The 49ers have also played better than their 4-4 record even with all of their injuries, ranking 9th in point differential at +29 and 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, four points above average. With the reinforcements they have gotten in recent weeks, I have the 49ers 5 points above average, with the Chargers 3.5 points below. That gives us a calculated line of around San Francisco -10, so we’re actually getting some line value with the 49ers, as high as this line is. This isn’t a big play, but the 49ers are worth betting this week and, if this line happens to go down to 6.5, this would become a bigger play.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -7

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Chargers at Atlanta Falcons: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) at Atlanta Falcons (4-4)

Coming into the season, I thought the Chargers were one of the most talented teams in the league, but they have been arguably the most injury affected team in the league since then, with several key players missing extended time. While center Corey Linsley has returned, the Chargers will be without stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Wallace, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among other lesser injuries.

The Chargers still have a 4-3 record, but their -25 point differential is significantly worse than their record and they are even worse in schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 29th, 4.5 points below average. Missing the players they are currently missing, my roster rankings have them around the same spot, about four points below average. Despite that, the Chargers are favored by a full field goal on the road in Atlanta against a decent Falcons team. 

The Falcons’ defense has struggled mightily this season, ranking 31st in schedule adjusted efficiency, and they are currently missing their top two cornerbacks Casey Hayward and AJ Terrell, but their offense ranks 4th in schedule adjusted efficiency and that is the more predictive side of the ball. The Falcons aren’t quite as good in my roster rankings, about a half point above average on offense and two points below average overall, but my calculated line still has them as 6-point home favorites over this overrated Chargers team, so we’re getting great line value with them as full field goal favorites. Atlanta +3 is my top pick this week and the money line is a great value as well.

Atlanta Falcons 26 Los Angeles Chargers 20 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

I was surprised this line was so low, favoring the Chargers by just 5 points, after favoring them by 7.5 points on the early line last week. The Seahawks did pull the minor upset at home over the Cardinals last week, but the Cardinals are an overrated team who ranks just 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency and who should never have been favored in that game in the first place, so that win should not have moved this line by that much. 

The Chargers had a pretty underwhelming performance last week, eking out a win over the Broncos, and they’ve had a slower start to the season than expected, going 4-2, but having a negative point differential and ranking just 24th in schedule adjusted efficiency, in large part due to injuries to key players like center Corey Linsley, left tackle Rashawn Slater, edge defender Joey Bosa, wide receiver Keenan Allen, and cornerback JC Jackson, who have all missed significant time this season. However, Linsley will play this week, Jackson could be better another week removed from his injury, and Allen may also return, so things are looking up injury wise.

With their injury situation improving, the Chargers rank about a point above average in my roster rankings, not as high as they were ranked to begin the season, but still better than they’ve played thus far this season. The Seahawks, meanwhile, rank 6 points below average in my roster rankings. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Seahawks actually rank slightly higher than the Chargers, ranking 21st, but that is primarily due to an offense that ranks 7th in schedule adjusted efficiency, while their defense ranks 31st, and I think it’s much more likely that their defense continues to struggle than it is that their offense continues playing at a high level, with quarterback Geno Smith’s performance likely to regress going forward.

My calculated line for this game is Chargers -7 and that’s even taking into account that the Chargers have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, leading to them going just 16-26 ATS at home since moving in 2017. We’re not getting significant line value with the Chargers at -5, but they are in a good spot with a bye up next. Home favorites of 6+ cover the spread at a 63.3% rate before a bye and, while the Chargers are not favored by that much, they deserve to be, so that trend could still apply. I am waiting on the injury status of Keenan Allen and Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett, but, assuming Allen returns after two weeks of limited practice and Lockett does not play after not practicing all week, the Chargers should be bettable this week. This is a low confidence pick for now, but I will update this pick before gametime.

Los Angeles Chargers 31 Seattle Seahawks 23

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -5

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-2)

Both of these teams have gotten off to disappointing starts. Both teams made significant additions this off-season and, as a result, were expected to take a step forward and become playoff teams and Super Bowl contenders this season, after numerous consecutive years without a playoff appearance, but, instead, the Chargers rank 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency and the Broncos rank 31st. Both teams are more talented than that suggests on paper and, as a result, both will likely play better going forward, but both teams have also been hampered by injuries in a significant way.

For the Chargers, center Corey Linsley and cornerback JC Jackson returned a few weeks ago, but wide receiver Keenan Allen remains out at least another week, as he has been since getting hurt week 1, while left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge defender Joey Bosa remain out indefinitely. Allen, Slater, and Bosa are among their most important players, so those absences are very significant. For the Broncos, safety Justin Simmons is expected to return this week, but left tackle Garett Bolles, running back Javonte Williams, edge defender Randy Gregory, and inside linebacker Josey Jewell remain out, all significant absences.

The Chargers have the three point edge in my roster rankings, but this line is pretty high at 4.5, especially when you consider the lack of homefield advantage the Chargers have had in recent years since moving to Los Angeles, going 16-25 ATS, as a result of having to constantly play in front of crowds who mostly favor the road team. That especially happens in divisional matchups like this where road fans don’t have far to travel, so I expect this crowd to be filled with Broncos fans. There’s not enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting confidently, but, with minimal homefield advantage factored in for the Chargers, my calculated line is Chargers -3.5, so we’re getting at least some line value with the visitor. This is a no confidence pick, but the Broncos should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Denver Broncos 20

Pick against the spread: Denver +4.5

Confidence: None

Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2)

The Browns lost last week in Atlanta, but that wasn’t that surprising as the Falcons are a competitive, if underwhelming team and the Browns were missing key players on defense, most notably Myles Garrett, arguably the best edge defender in the league. Garrett will be back this week for the Browns, who, despite last week’s loss, still rank 5th in offensive efficiency and have an offense that ranks significantly above average in my roster rankings, due to their offensive line, running game, and efficient quarterback play. 

The Browns haven’t faced that tough of a schedule, but they could easily be 4-0 right now if Garrett had played last week and if they had recovered an onside kick against the Jets and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which takes into account their easy schedule, but not Garrett’s absence, the Browns rank 13th, despite last week’s loss. Despite that, the Browns are 2-point home underdogs against the Chargers, who rank just 28th in schedule adjusted efficiency. 

Four games is a small sample size and the Chargers are more talented than their rank in schedule adjusted efficiency suggests, but they’ve also had significant injury problems this season that have led to them not being as good as expected. Center Corey Linsley and cornerback JC Jackson returned last week, but left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge defender Joey Bosa took their place on the injured list, while wide receiver Keenan Allen has been out since getting hurt during their week 1 game. 

Those five aforementioned players are five of their most important and, missing what they’re missing, I have the Chargers about a point behind the Browns in my roster rankings, in addition to being 6.5 points behind them in schedule adjusted efficiency. Given that, the Browns should be favored by at least a field goal at home, so we’re getting good line value with them as home underdogs, even if only by a couple points. The Browns are worth a significant bet this week, both against the spread and on the money line.

Cleveland Browns 24 Los Angeles Chargers 20 Upset Pick +115

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +2

Confidence: High

Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Houston Texans (0-2-1)

Going into the season, I expected the Chargers to be Super Bowl contenders, but they’ve gotten off to a slow start, sitting at 1-2, while ranking just 19th in schedule adjusted overall efficiency. A big part of the problem has been injuries and things aren’t getting better. Center Corey Linsley and cornerback JC Jackson are expected to return this week, but left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge defender Joey Bosa are now out, while wide receiver Keenan Allen will miss his third straight game. 

Those five aforementioned players are five of their most important and, on top of that, stud quarterback Justin Herbert may not be 100% as he deals with a rib injury. The Chargers are favored by 6 points here in Houston, but I think that’s a little too much, even against a Texans team that is one of the worst in the league. There’s not quite enough here for the Texans to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Houston Texans 20

Pick against the spread: Houston +6

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 3 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)

This game is tough to predict because even as of Sunday morning we don’t know the status of Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who is dealing with a rib injury suffered in last week’s game. Herbert stayed in the game last week and practiced in a limited fashion earlier this week, so most assumed he would play, but then he didn’t throw in Friday’s practice, making him legitimately questionable and reportedly a gametime decision. As a result, this line plummeted from favoring the Chargers by 9 down to 3, with veteran backup Chase Daniel starting now being a legitimate possibility. With some optimism on Sunday morning that Herbert will play, this line moved back up to 3.5, but it’s hard to make any sort of definitive pick without knowing Herbert’s status and where this line will settle when his status is confirmed.

Early in the week, I liked the Jaguars as 9-point underdogs. While they have gotten off to an impressive start, ranking 6th in overall efficiency, the Chargers rank just 28th and, though it’s only been two games, my roster rankings suggest this line would be too high at 9 even if Herbert plays, especially since he’s unlikely to be 100% even in a best case scenario. Part of that is because, even if Herbert plays, the Chargers have significant injury concerns, down their top cornerback JC Jackson, stud center Corey Linsley, and possibly talented wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is questionable to return from a hamstring injury that cost him last week’s game. The Chargers also typically struggle at home, frequently playing in front of crowds who prefer the visitor and going just 16-24 ATS at home since moving to Los Angeles in 2017.

Unfortunately, it’s much harder to take the Jaguars with any certainty at 3.5. If Herbert doesn’t play, the Jaguars have a good chance to pull the upset, but if Herbert does play, this line would obviously be too low. I’m tentatively taking the Jaguars for now, especially since the line has moved up to 3.5, a key number given that 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, but I will almost definitely have an update to this pick before gametime once we learn Herbert’s status and where this line will ultimately settle.

Update: Herbert is starting and the line has subsequently jumped to 6.5. I don’t like the Jaguars at that number as much as I liked them at 9 earlier this week, but Herbert figures to be limited and he’ll be without Keenan Allen, on top of Linsley and Jackson being out, so the Jaguars should still be the right side for pick ’em purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +6.5

Confidence: None