Preview and pick for the Sunday Night matchup between the Chargers and Ravens
By almost any angle you look at it, the Los Angeles Chargers have been a disappointment. With one more defeat, they will severely handicap themselves when it comes to contending for a playoff spot in the AFC.
Will that loss happen on Sunday night? The Bolts find themselves in the position of home underdog as they take the field at SoFi Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens in this game that begins at 8:20 PM ET.
The Chargers are 4-6, so they trail everyone else in the AFC West. The Ravens are the #1 team in the AFC North, but they came into the weekend's action just a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Browns, which means that if they lose on Sunday night, they could conceivably be the second-place squad.
In the Sunday Night Football betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Ravens are favored by a field goal:
Baltimore Ravens -3 (-115)
Los Angeles Chargers (-105)
Over 48 points -110
Under 48 points -110
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The Ravens won't have the services of Mark Andrews, who was placed on injured reserve after undergoing ankle surgery. This would have been particularly tragic news for the Ravens in previous seasons, but head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Todd Monken have opened this thing up a bit more by adding rookie Tay Flowers, veteran Odell Beckham Jr. and other wideouts to the picture.
Lamar Jackson is seventh in the NFL in Intended Air Yards per attempt (that's the distance a quarterback throws the ball beyond the line of scrimmage), and he is also fifth in the yards after the catch on the part of his receivers.
This is important because of the way the Chargers have - or haven't, as it were - played defense. As we came into this week's action, the Bolts had allowed more passing yards on a per-game basis than any other team in the NFL. And so perhaps it's no surprise that the Bolts have surrendered more explosive passing plays per game (4.4) than anyone else.
That's significant because L.A. head coach Brandon Staley developed his reputation as a defensive coordinator with the Rams. And this approach concentrated on keeping safeties back in order to thwart those explosive plays. And it was understood that this might concede something on the ground.
Well, Staley's stop unit isn't doing a bad job against opposition ground attacks, but teams can get chunk yards against them through the air. And Jackson not only runs well, he can buy time for receivers to get open.
That task might get easier for him, as the Chargers won't have Joey Bosa (injured reserve) available. Even though they have Khalil Mack (11 sacks), that's one fewer guy to exert pressure.
The whole defensive failure has been considered a failure for Staley, who is priced at +150 to be the next coach fired, according to BetOnline. He is also -500 to not be back as the Chargers' head coach next season.
Baltimore is the league's #1 team in DVOA. The Ravens also have an emerging talent at running back with Keaton Mitchell, who is averaging over ten yards a carry. So they have (almost) a fill set of weapons to throw at one of the NFL's worst defensive units, with a ground game that has produced 21 touchdowns. And Baltimore's defense has more interceptions (10) then TD's allowed through the air (9). They also have a +17 sack ratio.
The Ravens are fully capable of helping to kick Staley out the door.
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