Thursday Night Football best bets: Raiders-Rams
The surging Las Vegas Raiders and the free-falling Los Angeles Rams kick off Week 14 on Thursday night with a rather interesting betting line. You don’t often see a team with a losing record laying almost a touchdown on the road in a short week, but that speaks to how awful the Rams are right now and how dire their quarterback situation is with the recently-acquired Baker Mayfield expected to play. Is this line too high? Is there an angle on the total? What do our analysts have to say?
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for picks for the rest of Week 14 as we get closer to kickoff.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night. Go to VSiN.com for Betting Splits and live odds.
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Laying six points on Thursday Night Football with a road team is a suboptimal strategy, but so is playing Baker Mayfield, John Wolford or Bryce Perkins at QB. The Raiders are at least building towards something and were one of the unluckiest teams early in the season. They were 0-5 in games decided by six or fewer points, absolutely a correction of what happened last season when they luck-boxed their way into the playoffs.
I think Josh McDaniels is starting to figure things out. Josh Jacobs and the running game have been really potent and draw a Rams defense missing Aaron Donald again this week, but the emergence of a more consistent passing game is what intrigues me the most. The Rams have been good against the run all season, so we’ll see if Jacobs finds holes, but Derek Carr and Davante Adams are putting up enormous numbers these days and the level of balance Las Vegas' offense has shown the last two weeks has been impressive.
The Rams pass defense now ranks 28th in Dropback Success Rate and 29th in Dropback EPA. By no means do the Raiders have a good defense, but Los Angeles has averaged 4.7 yards per play and ranks 31st in EPA/play since Week 10, when Cooper Kupp was injured against the Cardinals. I’m just not sure the Rams have much more to give and you’ve got an awful situation at QB on a short week.
Pick: Raiders -6
Dave Tuley: We know Thursday Night Football Unders were the way to go early in the season as they were 5-1 through the first six weeks. But the fact is that offenses have gotten better at being ready on a short week as the season has gone along as TNF Overs have gone 5-2 the last seven weeks – and that’s with the Bills’ 24-10 win at the Patriots staying Under 43.5 last week.
But the main reason we like the Over this Thursday is it appears the total has been set based on the two teams’ season-long scoring averaged that on their current form. The Raiders average 24.3 PPG on the season while the Rams average 16.8. However, the last three weeks, the Raiders are averaging 29.3 PPG while the Rams – even with all their injuries at key offensive positions – are averaging 17.7 PPG, so we feel this total should be closer to 47 or 48 (which is what the defenses average with the Raiders allowing 24.7 points per game and the Rams 23.3).
Pick: Over 43
Danny Burke: Daniel Carlson has been a field goal machine this season. He is averaging 2.3 field goals made on 2.5 attempts per game. His prop for number of field goals made is set at 1.5 - a mark in which he has eclipsed in nine out of 11 games this season. Aside from what Carlson has done, it’s important to note why his opponent also makes this spot advantageous to bet his prop over. The Rams are allowing opponents to attempt 2.3 field goals per game, and, over the last three, that average has bumped to 2.7. In fact, the last five kickers Los Angeles has faced have connected on at least two or more field goals.
This Rams defense is banged up and is liable to allow opponents to march into their own territory. But despite allowing initial momentum, Sean McVay’s crew, more often than not, stops them dead in their tracks before crossing the pylon. The Rams rank second in defensive red zone efficiency, allowing only 43% of red zone trips to result in a touchdown; that number has decreased to 36% over the last three games.
While Los Angeles is thriving defensively in the red zone, their opposition is doing quite the opposite on the offensive side. The Raiders are executing in the red zone only 48.5% of the time, which is 29th in the NFL. So as long as Las Vegas is able to move the ball across midfield, and the Rams hold up their end of the bargain in the red zone, Carlson should see ample opportunity to kick the pigskin through the uprights.
Pick: Daniel Carlson Over 1.5 FGM (-148)