The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders will meet at Allegiant Stadium on Thursday night for the Week 15 edition of Thursday Night Football in the NFL. This is the first day of what could be 25 straight days of football. I’m not confident that’s going to happen given the Covid-19 situation for bowl games. Between teams backing out of games and the possibility of cancellations, I would be surprised if college football bowl season goes off without any hitches. That would almost certainly ruin the 25 days of football.
It does appear that all systems are green for the Chargers and Raiders in Las Vegas tonight, though. This is a classic AFC West rivalry between the Chargers and Raiders. One team has been playing great football during the Covid-19 season, while the Chargers just want this season to end and go into the offseason. It hasn’t been a complete waste of a season for the Chargers. They have learned a lot about rookie Justin Herbert. The raw talent is there, and it seems like Herbert should develop into a quality NFL quarterback.
What Herbert does to improve in the offseason is going to dictate his future in the NFL. We have seen quarterbacks before be a flash in the pan for a season or two, and then regress hard once defensive coordinators figure them out. The best quarterbacks know how to adjust and keep coordinators guessing. We will have to wait and see with Herbert, who has all of the physical characteristics to be good for a long time. Herbert goes into Thursday night with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 3,467 yards passing. He ranks in the top half of the league in passing yardage. The Chargers are still stuck at the bottom of the division at 4-9, though.
The Raiders have bigger plans in 2020, as they own a record of 7-6 and hope to go to the playoffs. That said, they have not been in great form and are losers in three of their previous four games. In their most recent outing, the Raiders lost a 44-27 decision against the Indianapolis Colts, who are a dark horse contender to be aware of now. The Raiders need to get their confidence back, and a win over a divisional rival would help. Head below for our free Chargers vs. Raiders props for December 17, 2020.
AFC West rivals battle it out on TNF.
— NFL (@NFL) December 16, 2020
Justin Herbert Passing Yards
Justin Herbert is 11th in the NFL with 3,467 yards passing. Not bad at all for a rookie, and it’s clear that the Chargers made a good move by swiping up Herbert after Tua was off the board. I had Herbert going to the Dolphins, so I was obviously high on him coming out of Oregon. He was shaky against the Patriots two weeks ago with 209 yards and 2 interceptions with no touchdowns. However, Herbert played better with 243 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception against the Falcons last week. He is capable of being better than that, but it was a decent response after the Pats frustrated him.
The Raiders will be down four defensive starters on Thursday night. Clelin Ferrell, Nicholas Morrow, Damon Arnette, and Jonathan Abram are slated to be out of the game. Arnette and Abram out of the equation doesn’t help an already struggling Oakland defense. The Raiders rank near the back of the NFL with 256.1 passing yards conceded per game. I expect this to be a back and forth game, so the Chargers are likely going to need to keep the ball in the air tonight. Herbert was efficient with 326 yards passing and 2 touchdowns in his first meeting versus the Raiders on November 8. He should record at least 280 yards in Week 15.
Austin Ekeler Receiving Yards
Justin Herbert has weapons to work with in the Chargers’ offense. He didn’t get thrown into a bad situation in Los Angeles. Keenan Allen is his favorite target, but there are others that have helped Herbert out nicely. Having a safety valve like Austin Ekeler out of the backfield certainly helps. Herbert has looked his way a lot this season, especially recently where Ekeler has been targeted 34 times in the last three games alone.
Through his last five games, Ekeler has received 46 targets and 36 receptions. Ekeler recorded 270 yards in those five outings, and the two teams that were able to contain him both have reliable defenses. The Buccaneers and Patriots held Ekeler in check, but he did damage against the others. Note that Ekeler has recorded at least 50 yards in four of his last six performances. Expect Ekeler to do damage against a banged up and porous Raiders’ defense.
Darren Waller Receiving Yards
Darren Waller has been quite the success story for the Raiders over the last two years. After breaking out as a star last season, Waller continues to produce in a big way for Las Vegas. Waller collected 90 receptions for 1,145 yards and 3 touchdowns. This season Waller has been more of a target in the red zone, as he’s already had 7 touchdowns. Waller enters Thursday night with 84 receptions and 817 yards receiving. With his size and speed, Waller is a nightmare for opposing defenses. He went off in a monster game against the Jets two weeks ago, as Waller notched 13 receptions for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. Waller followed up for a steady outing versus the Colts, with 7 receptions and 75 yards. It’s within reason to believe that Waller can go for more than 63 yards in this one.