Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) at Los Angeles Rams (3-9)

The Raiders have won three straight after a 2-7 start, but that’s not as big of a shift as you might think, as six of their seven losses came up one score, while their three recent wins have also been one score games. In total, the Raiders have played 9 of 12 games within one score this season and 10 of 12 within single digits. The difference recently is just that they have managed to win their close games, after losing so many early in the season. With so many close games on their schedule, you might think I am going away from the Raiders this week as 6-point road favorites in Los Angeles against the Rams, but I still think they’re the better side, for a few reasons. 

For one, the Rams’ current injury situation makes them one of the worst teams in the league. Already without a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team after off-season departures, the Rams have since lost another three starting offensive linemen due to injury, as well as their starting quarterback Matt Stafford, his two best wide receivers, most notably Cooper Kupp, who was arguably the best receiver in the league a year ago, and their top defensive player Aaron Donald, who is also arguably the best in the league at his position. 

As injuries have piled up, the Rams have lost six straight, including four by margins that would have covered this spread, with three of those losses being at home. The Raiders are an average at best team that plays a lot of close games, but the Rams are the type of team that even the Raiders shouldn’t have too much trouble with, similar to their multi-score victories over the Texans and Broncos. Also, even though the Raiders have played a lot of games, they have played at least somewhat better in recent weeks, turning their close losses into close wins, and better health on defense is a key part of the reason why, with top cornerback Nate Hobbs and top linebacker Denzel Perryman now back in the lineup.

The Rams also can’t expect much help from their homefield advantage this week. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, the Rams have had a pretty limited homefield advantage, with fans supporting the road team frequently showing up in large numbers, leading to the Rams going 31-25 at home (24-29-3 ATS), as opposed to 35-23 on the road (29-27-2 ATS) sincere moving. The crowd should especially be a problem for the Rams in this game, with their season effectively over at 3-9 and with the Raiders being a former Los Angeles team that still has a lot of support in the area. I would expect the majority of fans at this game to be Raiders fans. There isn’t nearly enough here to be confident enough in the Raiders to bet on them, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as they should win this game by at least a full touchdown.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -6

Confidence: Low

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

Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) at Seattle Seahawks (6-4)

This game is tough to predict without knowing the status of a pair of key players on the Raiders who seem like legitimate gametime decisions, feature back Josh Jacobs and top cornerback Nate Hobbs. If both players are out, the Seahawks shouldn’t have too much trouble covering this 3.5-point spread. A spread of 3.5 is higher than you might think because about 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer and, largely as a result, 3.5-point underdogs cover more often than underdogs of any other number, covering the spread at a 52.9% rate, which is actually profitable. However, if Hobbs and Jacobs are out, my calculated line would be 8, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about this line being at 3.5. 

Overall, the Seahawks are about 3.5 points above average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency and about 2.5 points above average in my roster rankings. The Raiders, meanwhile, are 2 points below average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency and, while they would be significantly better than that if Nate Hobbs returned this week from his 5-game absence, if Hobbs doesn’t play and Josh Jacobs misses his first game of the season, the Raiders would be even worse than 2 points below average. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick on the Seahawks for now, but I might end up updating this pick depending on who is active for the Raiders and where this line ultimately ends up.

Seattle Seahawks 26 Las Vegas Raiders 20

Pick against the spread: Seattle -3.5

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) at Denver Broncos (3-6)

The Broncos are off to a disappointing start, sitting at 3-6, while ranking 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about five points below average, suggesting they’ve played just as bad, if not worse than their record suggests. Injuries have been a huge part of the problem, with starting running back Javonte Williams, starting wide receiver Tim Patrick, stud left tackle Garrett Bolles, starting right tackle candidates Tom Compton and Billy Turner, starting center candidates Graham Glasgow and Lloyd Cushenberry, talented edge defenders Randy Gregory and Baron Browning, top linebacker Josey Jewell, top safety Justin Simmons, and starting cornerback Ronald Darby all missing significant time with injury to begin the season. 

The majority of those players remain out, with Simmons and Jewell returning a few weeks back, and Glasgow, Browning, and Compton possibly returning this week, but none of those players are guaranteed to return and the Broncos have some new injury absences as well, with starting linebacker Jonas Griffith, talented slot cornerback K’Waun Williams, and starting wide receiver Jerry Jeudy all going down in the past week. The Broncos also traded away edge defender Bradley Chubb for draft picks at the trade deadline, which is another big loss. With Glasgow, Browning, and Compton questionable and the rest of those players out, I have the Broncos 7.5 points below average in my roster rankings, which would be even worse if those aforementioned players didn’t play.

The Raiders are off to a disappointing 2-7 start as well, but they are healthy and have overall played better, possessing a 2.5-point edge in schedule adjusted efficiency and a 5-point edge in my roster rankings. Despite that, the Raiders are 2.5 point underdogs in Denver, suggesting these two teams are about even. My calculated line has the Raiders favored by 2.5 points, so we’re getting good line value with the Raiders at +2.5. I don’t want to lock in this bet until I know the status of Compton, Glasgow, and Browning and I am holding out hope that we will get a +3 at some point, but the Raiders are the pick for pick ‘em purposes either way, even at +2.5, and the money line is a good value as well at +125, as the Raiders should be the ones at least slightly favored in this matchup.

Update: +3s have started showing up, so I am going to lock in a bet at that number.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 Denver Broncos 17 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas +3

Confidence: Medium

Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-6)

The Colts have had a disastrous season. Their offense has been horrible (26th in offensive schedule adjusted efficiency) and attempts to improve it, by benching veteran quarterback Matt Ryan for unproven 2021 6th round pick Sam Ehlinger and by firing offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, have arguably made it worse, culminating in a 2.0 yards per play performance in New England last week, which ultimately lost head coach Frank Reich his job. 

Making matters even worse, instead of promoting an interim head coach from the inside, the Colts pulled a wild card and hired former center Jeff Saturday, who has never coached above the high school level and who has not been in this locker room all season, leaving them in a precarious coaching situation at say the least, without experienced coordinators either, with Marcus Brady being fired last week and long-time defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus not really being replaced this off-season. 

The Colts are also without top linebacker Shaq Leonard, likely for the season, although he’s barely played anyway this season and the Colts still rank 12th in defensive schedule adjusted efficiency, the only reason they have managed to win three games this season. With Ehlinger remaining under center and no offensive leadership though, their offense is likely going to be too much for their defense to overcome going forward, especially without Leonard.

The Raiders have also had a disastrous season, starting 2-6, despite making the playoffs a year ago and having expectations of going on a deeper run this year, after trading away their first two draft picks for Davante Adams. The Raiders aren’t getting blown out for the most part though, with five of their six losses coming by seven points or fewer and both of their wins coming by multiple scores. Overall, they have a -18 point differential, while ranking 21st in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, 1.5 points below average, which is disappointing, but nearly as bad as the Colts, who are 3.5 points below average.

The injuries are starting to pile up, with talented slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, talented tight end Darren Waller, and top cornerback Nate Hobbs among other absences, but they are still only 2 points below average in my roster rankings, as opposed to 6 points below average for the Colts. My calculated line is Las Vegas -5, so we’re getting some line value with them as 4.5-point favorites, especially once you factor in the disarray around the Colts coaching staff. There isn’t enough here for the Raiders to be worth betting, but this should be a relatively easy win for them, like their multi-score wins over the Broncos and Texans.

Las Vegas Raiders 24 Indianapolis Colts 17

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -4.5

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (2-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)

The Jaguars are just 2-6, but they actually have a positive point differential at +14, as all six of their losses have come by eight points or fewer, with an average margin of 6.3 points per game, while their two wins have come by margins of 24 and 28. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Jaguars rank 7th in the NFL, about 3.5 points about average and, while my roster rankings have them 5.5 points below average, they’re still significantly better than their record would suggest, overachieving their talent level by a significant amount.

The Raiders also have just two wins and have also played better than that, with four of their five losses coming by six points or fewer, but their -11 point differential is still significantly behind the Jaguars, while their 18th ranked schedule adjusted efficiency is 4 points behind the Jaguars. The Raiders have the 3.5 point edge in my roster rankings, as they are underachieving their talent level and the Jaguars are overachieving, but, overall, I have the Jaguars as the slightly better of these two teams. Given that this game is in Jacksonville, my calculated line has them favored by a field goal, so we’re getting good line value with them as 2-point home underdogs. I wish we were getting a full field goal with them, but they’re still bettable at +2, and on the money line.

Jacksonville Jaguars 27 Las Vegas Raiders 24 Upset Pick +115

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +2

Confidence: Medium

Las Vegas Raiders at New Orleans Saints: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (2-4) at New Orleans Saints (2-5)

It’s unfortunate that these teams are playing this week, as I think both are underrated and significantly better than their record. The Saints are 2-5, but their primary issue has been the turnover margin, ranking dead last in the NFL at -10, which fortunately for them is not predictive week-to-week. They’re still slightly below average in schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 21st, about 1.5 points below average, but that is better than their record would suggest. The Raiders, meanwhile, are 2-4 despite a +13 point differential and rank 11th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 1.5 points below average.

This line, favoring the Raiders by 1.5 in New Orleans, suggests about a four point difference between these two teams, which is a little much, so we’re getting some line value with the Saints, but it’s not nearly enough to bet on them with any confidence. The money line at +105 is a better value because the Saints should be considered at least 50/50 to win this game, but against the spread this is a low confidence pick.

New Orleans Saints 28 Las Vegas Raiders 27 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: New Orleans +1.5

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-3-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (1-4)

The Raiders are favored by a touchdown this week, despite being just 1-4, but they’ve been competitive in all of their losses, with an average margin of defeat of just 3.5 points, and this home game against the Texans is the easiest game they’ve played all season thus far, with the Texans ranking 31st in schedule adjusted efficiency. That’s about 8 points behind the Raiders, who actually rank 15th, despite their record.

However, the Raiders are missing a pair of key players, talented tight end Darren Waller and top cornerback Nate Hobbs, so these two teams are closer in my roster rankings than they are in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency. My calculated line is closer to 6.5 than 7, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Texans. It’s an insignificant amount, so there isn’t nearly enough here for the Texans to be worth betting, but I would take them for pick ‘em purposes if I had to.

Las Vegas Raiders 23 Houston Texans 17

Pick against the spread: Houston +7

Confidence: None

Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-1)

The Chiefs are 3-1 and could easily be 4-0 if not for missed makeable kicks and turnovers in a 3-point loss to the Colts, a game in which the Chiefs won the first down rate battle by 5.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.50, which are both significantly more predictive than turnovers or special teams. In terms of overall efficiency, which is based on first down rate and yards per play, the Chiefs rank 5th and my roster rankings have them as the most talented team in the league overall.

The Raiders, meanwhile, are 1-3, but all four of their games could have gone either way and their roster is middling overall. Despite that, they are only 7-point underdogs on the road in Kansas City, so we’re getting some line value with the Chiefs, who I have as 8 points better than the Raiders and 10-point home favorites on my calculated line. That being said, the Chiefs are in a bad spot this week, with a much tougher game against the Bills on deck, so I can’t be confident betting them. They are the right side for pick ‘em purposes though.

Kansas City Chiefs 34 Las Vegas Raiders 24

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -7

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)

This line favors the Raiders by 2.5 points at home, suggesting these two teams are about even. I have them about equal in my roster rankings, so this line is about right. The Raiders could be in a tough spot this week, hosting the Broncos, with a bigger divisional game against the Chiefs on deck. On the other hand, the Raiders are just 0-3, so they will be desperate for their first win. I’m still taking the Broncos, but there isn’t nearly enough here for them to be worth betting.

Las Vegas Raiders 26 Denver Broncos 24

Pick against the spread: Denver +2.5

Confidence: None