Thursday Night Football Betting: Can Vegas Continue Their Comeback Trail as a Sizable Road Favorite?
It's not often we get too verklempt about a 5-7 football team like the Las Vegas Raiders, but they have been playing some very solid football recently. After starting the season a very disappointing 2-7, they've ripped off three straight wins, including a pair over AFC West divisional foes. They have quietly climbed back in the playoff race.
We can't exactly say the same thing for the Los Angeles Rams. This has been a disaster of an encore following their Super Bowl win; they sit 3-9 with injuries to stars like Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald.
Despite heading in opposite directions, our power rankings show that this game is only for fans of these two teams, hardcore fans, and bettors. The Rams clock in 26th, and the Raiders are 27th.
Let’s dive in and see if we can uncover any interesting betting angles for this contest.
Breaking Down the Matchup
The play of these two quarterbacks is possibly polar opposite so far this year -- and perhaps that's not fair to backup John Wolford, who has been thrust into action unceremoniously with Stafford injured.
Among the 44 quarterbacks with 65 or more drop backs, Wolford has not been great in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. His -0.17 mark is only above Kyle Allen so far this season. Yup, it's been that bad.
On the flip side of this coin, Derek Carr has certainly enjoyed hooking back up with Fresno State teammate Davante Adams this season. In that same realm of passers, Carr has logged a far better mark of 0.14 Passing NEP per pass this season, good for 14th best among qualifiers. Carr has thrown for just under 3,000 yards this year (2,980), and Adams has racked up 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns for the ninth-best offense in the NFL, per our nERD ranks.
It's unfair to simply stop there when characterizing this excellent Las Vegas offense. Josh Jacobs spearheads the rushing attack, and he's eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season, logging 242 carries for 1,303 yards and 10 scores. Jacobs ranks second in the NFL in carries behind Derrick Henry, but he's been wildly efficient despite the heavy workload. His 0.14 Rushing NEP per carry mark is fourth-best among the 38 running backs with at least 100 carries.
Cam Akers was solid last week in nearly springing an upset over the Seattle Seahawks, finding paydirt twice through 60 rushing yards on 17 carries. Unfortunately, working his way back from a torn achilles has resulted in tough sledding in 2022. Akers has rushed the ball 110 times for a -0.06 Rushing NEP per rush mark this year (third-worst in the NFL).
While the Raiders rank 9th overall and 12th (each) in passing and running, the Rams have not been quite as adept, clocking in 5th-worst overall, 27th in passing, and 17th in rushing. The Raider defense has been the second-worst unit overall, yet the Rams' rushing defense has been the fifth-best in the league.
The Betting Numbers
As we get close to kicking off, the Raiders are 6.5-point favorites, and the total has been set at 43.5 points.
Las Vegas has been a so-so bet so far against the spread (ATS) this season. They’ve covered three in a row and have a 6-6 ATS mark this season. Unfortunately, picking against the home side has been a positive proposition this year. L.A. is just 3-7-2 ATS in 2022. The bright lights have been kind to Vegas if recent history is any indication. In their last 12 primetime games, they are 9-3 ATS. The Rams have failed to cover six straight in those spots.
Our algorithm, however, sees this as a tight contest. While we still see the Raiders as a likely winner, it's by a far tighter margin. The model is projecting a 23.7-21.2 win on the road. Vegas is in a good spot to win their fourth straight game, but the Rams might not be a bad bet to cover the spread. It's rated as a three-star (i.e. three-unit) wager by the model.
That total also eclipses the projected one, so the over is also grading out as a two-star wager.
Both rushing props over at the FanDuel Sportsbook are pretty intriguing. While the line has been set at 89.5 yards (-110) for Jacobs and 44.5 yards (-110) for Akers, we see them both surpassing this mark/ Jacobs is projected as the week's second-best rusher (99.6 yards), and it's expecting Akers to eclipse that bet as well (50.7 yards).
Despite being limited recently due to calf and quad injuries, Jacobs has been absolutely ballin'. In the last three weeks, he's topped the century mark each game, rushing 83 times for 482 yards (5.81 YPC).
The public is clearly backing the visiting Raiders. 71% of bets and 79% of the cash are supporting Las Vegas.