Each week, TheLines will provide a betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Thursday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best prop bets.
The LA Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders will face off at Allegiant Stadium for an AFC West showdown on Thursday, Dec. 17. The game will mark the 123rd meeting in a series the Raiders lead, 66-54-2. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 9 of this season, with the Raiders notching a 31-26 win at SoFi Stadium.
In that contest, both Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert and Las Vegas’ Derek Carr threw for two touchdowns apiece, while Keenan Allen led all pass catchers with nine receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders held on for the win after entering the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead.
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TNF betting odds and analysis
LA Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders – 8:20 p.m. ET
There’s a three-win gap between the underachieving Chargers and the borderline postseason-contending Raiders, but this line has remained both narrow and consistent since the open late last week. Las Vegas opened as as 3.5-point favorite and is currently listed at , without any appreciable fluctuation.
The Chargers are coming off a 20-17 win over the Falcons that saw them come out on the victorious side of a close game for a change. Los Angeles also has had three games to get Austin Ekeler back into the swing of things, but the Bolts headed into Tuesday with 12 players sporting questionable tags, including the star running back, Allen and Mike Williams. Ekeler is expected to see a normal amount of action. Allen and Williams, though, will be on rep counts according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Raiders were embarrassed by the Colts, 44-27, in Week 14, a defeat that led to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Las Vegas continues to fight for an AFC Wild Card spot but will need to win out to even have a chance at entering the postseason tournament, making this contest critical for coach Jon Gruden’s squad.
The projected total for the contest has seen a steady dip since Sunday. The game sat at an elevated 55 points as of Sunday evening, but a steady decline that began that same night has resulted in a reduction to 53 points on Tuesday. The total is currently . The number of injury designations attached to key Chargers offensive players is doubtlessly playing a part in the downward trajectory.
- The Chargers are 6-7 (46.2%) against the spread this season, including 3-3 as a road team and 1-2 (33.3%) in division games. The Over is 7-6 (53.8%) in Los Angeles’ games this season, including 4-2 (66.7%) in its away games and 2-1 (66.7%) against AFC West opponents.
- The Raiders are 7-6 (53.8%) against the spread this season, including 3-3 (50.0%) as a home team and 4-0 in division games. The Over is 9-3-1 (75.0%) in Las Vegas’ games this season, including 4-1-1 (80.0%) in its home games and 3-1 (75.0%) in its division games.
TNF prop search tool
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TNF player props trends and strategy
Chargers vs. Raiders game matchup
The fact this is the second game between division opponents and the first contest finished with a narrow five-point margin makes this an intriguing battle, despite the disparity between the teams’ records. On paper, the matchup sets up well for Gruden’s preference to lean heavily on the running game, as Los Angeles is above-average at limiting wide receiver production and also has demonstrated vulnerability against opposing ground attacks. Meanwhile Chargers head man Anthony Lynn, who could well be on his way out the door this offseason, may have the luxury of throwing caution to the wind by attacking a defense that’s shown weakness against both the run and pass in whichever way he chooses.
Las Vegas checks in allowing 256.1 passing yards per game, including the second most (299.7) of any home team. The Chargers have tilted slightly toward the pass overall with a 59.4 percent passing play percentage and 41.6 attempts per contest for Herbert. The health of safety Johnathan Abram, who entered the concussion protocol in Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis, will be integral to how well the Raiders can implement any new secondary wrinkles that interim coordinator Rod Marinelli might put in place on the short week. Meanwhile, the aforementioned bumps and bruises currently befalling Allen (hamstring) and Henry (hip) are also integral to the overall outlook for Los Angeles’ air attack. Both players were estimated as non-participants for Monday’s practice report, making it possible their availability comes down to the wire Thursday.
The same could ultimately hold true for Ekeler, who’s dealing with a quadriceps injury after logging 44 snaps against Atlanta. The versatile back is key to the Chargers’ passing game as well, but he’d also be very valuable against a Las Vegas unit that’s given up 128.1 rushing yards per game, along with the third-most RB yards (4.99), second-most open-field yards (1.07) and second-most second-level yards (1.46) per carry. Ekeler has yet to break off a run of longer than 20 yards this season, but he’s averaging an efficient 4.7 yards per tote. If he were to be sidelined or limited, quality depth exists in the form of Kalen Ballage and Justin Jackson.
On the other side, Gruden will look to unleash second-year workhorse Josh Jacobs on a Chargers defense that’s given up 120.5 rushing yards per road contest, 4.82 RB yards per carry and a robust 1.39 second-level yards per tote. The Raiders offensive line ranks in the bottom half of the league with 4.11 RB yards per carry facilitated, but that still leaves Jacobs and primary backup Devontae Booker in a net favorable matchup. Vegas’ rushing play rate of 44.14 percent sits at ninth highest in the league, supporting the notion the Silver and Black will give Los Angeles a heavy dose of Jacobs and company.
As alluded to earlier, passing attacks have often found the Chargers secondary to be a proverbial black hole. Current injuries to cornerback Chris Harris (foot) and safety Nasir Adderley (shoulder) bear monitoring as gameday approaches, but L.A. will check into the game surrendering the seventh-fewest passing yards per game (217.1) and ninth-lowest completion percentage (63.3), along with a middling 61.9% catch rate to receivers specifically. This could therefore be a particularly inviting matchup for tight end Darren Waller, with the Chargers tied with several teams for third-most receiving touchdowns (nine) yielded to his position.
Best Thursday Night Football betting sites
How to watch Thursday Night Football
The Thursday Night Football schedule is the most complex of the primetime NFL spots.
The first Thursday season opener doesn’t fall under the TNF title. Chiefs – Texans in Week 1 was broadcast on NBC at 8:20 p.m. ET. And, the three-game Thanksgiving slate is carried by three different networks.
NFL Network broadcast the games in Weeks 2, 3 and 4. Then, starting in Week 5 with the matchup of the Buccaneers vs. Bears, FOX NFL Network, and Amazon will simulcast the game.
Still with us? Each Thursday night game will begin at 8:20 p.m. Eastern, regardless of the network.
Games can be streamed on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. Additionally, NFL Network and FOX can be streamed on services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.
Thursday Night Football betting tips
How to bet TNF like a sharp
Thursday Night Football condenses the practice week for coaches, decreases recovery time for players and limits opportunities for media members to uncover stories and create narratives. This unpredictability factor can help to level the sports-betting playing field.
Taking the most rested team is never a bad idea. You want the healthiest squad with the longest amount of preparation time since its last game.
Siding with the home team in what would otherwise be a pick’em doesn’t hurt, either. You want the team that’s spent the longest amount of time preparing in the proper city, not wasting what can be the better of a day traveling.
You want the healthiest side, as simple as that. Without a proper injury report, it can be tough to tell what level of health players will be at when gearing up to play in a big primetime spot. Don’t expect a player who left a game Sunday to return in elite form by Thursday. He’ll more than likely be a decoy.
Don’t fall into the public opinion trap of TNF always being a lousy game. It’s still one of only 16 games those two teams will play all year and most of them generally need to win. Coaches will do the best with what they have, and plenty of players (Hello, Nick Mullens!) have burst onto the scene with strong games while filling in for an injured starter.
Frequently Asked Questions
When does Thursday Night Football start?
The 2020 Thursday Night Football slate began with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Cleveland Browns.
How to stream Thursday Night Football?
TNF can be streamed live on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. NFL Network and FOX can also be streamed through services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.
What is the highest-scoring Thursday Night Football game ever?
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers 41-39 in Week 3 of the 2017 campaign in the highest-scoring TNF game of all time.
Who are the TNF announcers?
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will return to broadcast TNF. Mike Pereira serves as the rules analyst with Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink working the sidelines. The same broadcast airs on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon.
Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer made history in 2018 as the first all-woman NFL broadcast team as an alternate stream for Amazon Prime viewers.
Who was the original Thursday Night Football broadcast crew?
The original TNF broadcast crew for NFL Network in 2006 was Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth.
Retired Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo memorably joined Jim Nantz for CBS’ final year of TNF coverage in 2017.
Who sings the Thursday Night Football theme song?
FOX and NFL Network air their own instrumental themes to begin the coverage, unlike the SNF and MNF primetime spots.