Chargers vs Raiders Sunday Night Football Picks and Predictions: For All The Playoff Marbles

The Chargers have had an up-and-down season and absolutely must win in Vegas on Sunday Night to reach the postseason. The Raiders, however, have won three straight and we like them with points at home. Read on with our SNF betting picks for Week 18.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
Jan 9, 2022 • 18:59 ET • 5 min read

The stakes couldn't be higher as the Los Angeles Chargers travel to Las Vegas to face the Raiders with an AFC playoff spot on the line.

The Chargers are field-goal favorites for this “win-and-in” primetime showdown despite the Raiders’ three-game winning streak. Los Angeles knocked off Vegas 28-14 at home back in Week 4 – the first time in the past five meetings these AFC rivals haven’t had a game decided by a single score.

Buckle up for a wild night in Vegas, as we give our free NFL betting picks and predictions for Chargers at Raiders on January 9.

Chargers vs Raiders odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The Raiders opened as 2.5-point home underdogs and climbed as high as +3.5 before settling to +3 at most sportsbooks, with L.A. priced -3 (-115). The total hit the board at 47.5 points and surged to as much as 50 before slimming to 49.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full NFL odds before placing your bets.

Chargers vs Raiders predictions

Predictions made on 1/9/2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Chargers vs Raiders game info

Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Date: Sunday, January 9, 2022
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET

Chargers at Raiders betting preview


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Key injuries

Chargers: Easton Stick QB (Out), Larry Rountree III RB (Out), Gabe Nabers FB (Out), Senio Kelemete OG (Out), Joe Gaziano DE (Out)
Raiders: Amik Robertson CB (Out), Patrick Onwuasor LB (Out), Jordan Simmons G (Out), Jackson Barton T (Out), Nick Bowers TE (Out), Carl Nassib DE (Out), Damion Square DT (Out)
Find our latest NFL injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Chargers and Raiders have gone Under in seven of their last 10 meetings overall. Find more NFL betting trends for Chargers vs. Raiders.

Chargers vs Raiders picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

With the way past games in this divisional series have played out and with all that’s at stake Sunday night, this AFC West war feels like a nail-biter. 

No wonder books are hanging on to the field goal spread tighter than leather pants in August on the Las Vegas Strip. Some UK-based online markets are dealing Raiders +3.5 (-133), but the market consensus is a soft +3 (-105) on this side of the pond.

Las Vegas enters this finale as the hot team, fighting for its postseason life the past three weeks with tight wins at Indianapolis, versus Cleveland and at Denver – all coming by a combined nine points. Defense has been the backbone of this late-season push, giving up a collective 47 points in that span and ranking out fourth in EPA allowed per play since Week 15 (-0.330).

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is the biggest hurdle the Silver and Black have faced in this home stretch of schedule, with the Bolts second-year passer coming off a solid showing at home to Denver last week, which helped L.A. snap a two-game losing skid and set up Sunday’s scenario.

That said, Las Vegas has tightened the bolts (solid pun) on its passing defenses. While the previous QB competition does stack up to Herbert, Vegas has checked its last three foes to a success rate of just 30.3% per drop back – second-lowest in the NFL since Week 15. 

As for the Raiders offense, it’s been stuck in the mud for more than a month or at least since losing tight end Darren Waller to injury on Thanksgiving Day. Waller appeared to be on track to return in Week 17 but contracted COVID-19 and had to sit last week’s win over the Colts. He’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday night.

With the Raiders already in that dire mindset the past month and the Chargers continuing to play inconsistent football, we’re leaning on the home underdog. However, with all the close games in this series and in Vegas’ recent outings (five of last six decided by four or less), either wait for +3.5 or go buy it. A field goal finish is on the way.

Prediction: Raiders +3 (-105)

The Raiders offense hasn’t been able to turn gains into points since Waller went down, but Las Vegas continues to move the chains and boast solid possession numbers. 

The Silver and Black have an average time of possession of 33:41 over their three-game winning run (second-most in the NFL in that span) and have been vastly improved on third down, converting 46.15% of the time since Week 15.  

Los Angeles’ defense ranks dead last in third-down stands, allowing foes to move the chains on those crucial plays at a near 50% clip. A big part of that is the Chargers butter-soft rushing defense, which sits 32nd in DVOA at Football Outsiders and allows + 0.146 EPA per rush on the season – by far the highest in the league. 

That inability to get foes off the field plays into the Raiders’ pace of play perfectly. Las Vegas runs an offensive play every 28.05 seconds (12th slowest) and knows it must play a little defense on offense, keeping Herbert and the L.A. attack on the sideline. When the Bolts finally do get to touch the ball, they’ll have a tough time stretching the field against a Raiders defense that protects against passes over the top and keeps everything in front of it. 

Las Vegas has allowed only 40 passes of 20 or more yards on the season (tied for fifth-fewest) and only eight passes of 40 or more yards. Las Vegas is quick to tackle and limits the damage receivers do after the catch (fourth-fewest YAC allowed), which will keep gains shot and the clock ticking. 

Prediction: Under 49 (-110)

Sunday night in Vegas will have a playoff atmosphere and the Death Star will be rocking. The Raiders don’t have the horses to keep pace in a shootout and will look to mix in a steady dose of the ground game, testing the Bolts’ tissue-paper run defense.

Las Vegas has stayed below the total in each of those games during this three-game winning streak, seeing a major uptick in handoffs in this span. 

Before Week 15, the Raiders averaged just 22 rushes per contest – second-fewest in the NFL. However, over the last three outings, that ground game has jumped to nearly 31 handoffs per game. Running back Josh Jacobs, who was limited in practice with injured ribs (questionable), is expected to give it a go in this do-or-die game.

Pick: Under 49 (-110)

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