The last game on the 2021 NFL regular season slate pits the L.A. Chargers against their divisional rivals, the Las Vegas Raiders, with the winner copping a playoff berth while the loser makes vacation plans. Let’s analyze this winner-take-all Sin City Sunday night showdown and keep cashing our NFL picks.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday, January 9, 2021 – 8:20 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium
The Chargers may have salvaged their season with a brilliant effort last week against the Broncos. Heading into that Week 17 matchup, they had recently lost to the Chiefs and were shocked, 41-29, by the Houston Texans, making their date with Denver at Mile High a must-win.
And what a difference a week makes as the Bolts were fired up from the opening kickoff until the final gun as they delivered a 34-13 beating of the Broncos in hostile territory. Justin Herbert tossed a pair of touchdowns and added 237 passing yards to his yearly total while the defense held Drew Lock to one touchdown pass and grounded the Denver running game to 83 rushing yards.
After only 31 career games, Herbert became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to complete 800 passes and set a franchise record for touchdowns in a season with 35 after 16 games.
“I think it’s special because I was a Chargers fan growing up and I knew about all those guys (Dan Fouts and Rivers) and I’ve watched ’em all and they’re football legends,” said Herbert, who also became the second-youngest player in NFL history to throw 65 touchdown passes. “To be even in the same conversation with them is a huge honor.”
Sin City will be jumping this Sunday as the Raiders fight for their playoff lives against the Chargers after reeling off three consecutive wins to put them in position for a postseason berth. But those victories have all been close calls as Las Vegas defeated the Browns, 16-14, then the Broncos, 17-13, and last week stunned the Colts, 23-20. That is a three-point average margin of victory over their last three games but there are no style points in the NFL and right now the Raiders can take control of their destiny.
“We’re finding a way to do it because we have the right kind of guys,” Carr said, “and there’s never been a doubt, there’s never a finger pointed, you know, at this or that, and this coach is not there, and all this kind … nobody cares.
“We have a bunch of guys that believe that and just keep going.”
Derek Carr had tossed a touchdown and a pair of interceptions, giving him a career-high 14 picks on the season. Las Vegas kicker, Daniel Carlson, drilled three field goals with the last being a 33-yard game-winner with no time remaining.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The last time these teams met the Chargers handed the Raiders a 28-14 loss with Justin Herbert torching the Raiders’ secondary for three touchdowns while the LA rushing attack ate up the ground to the tune of 168 yards with Austin Ekeler getting 117 of those rushing yards.
On the flip side, the Raiders were held to a mere 48 rushing yards with their lead back, Josh Jacobs, picking up 40 yards on 13 carries. Derek Carr was 21-of-34 for 196 yards through the air with two touchdown passes and one interception. The NFL odds in that matchup showed the Chargers as three-point home chalk and here they are again, being installed as three-point road favorites.
I’m trying to figure out what’s changed enough for someone to back the Raiders in this spot. Certainly, the venue is different but the Raiders’ offense has been stuck in neutral and they were more than fortunate to win last week’s game against the Colts after a series of miscues.
Let’s give them credit for limiting their last three opponents to 15.6 points per game but I don’t see that happening against Justin Herbert, a man who has already shredded their secondary and will likely do so again this week.
Nope, our money is on the Bolts laying a field goal. They are the better team and they also have a few trends working in their favor:
- Chargers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
- Chargers are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games in January.
- Chargers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs. AFC West.
- Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 vs. AFC West.
- Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
NFL Pick: Chargers -3 (-110) with Bet365