Week 16 in the NFL includes with a showdown between the Ravens and Chargers on Thursday Night Football. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook, BetStars, and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 16 Saturday Night Football Betting Odds
Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers
This is a very intriguing matchup that should have a playoff-like atmosphere considering the circumstances.
Baltimore essentially needs to win to move to 9-6 and keep pace with the Colts and Titans in the AFC Wild Card race. The Colts and Titans both have easy draws (home vs. NYG and WAS, respectively) this week and then play each other in Week 17. Thus, a loss could all but eliminate the Ravens.
Of course, Baltimore could hope Pittsburgh falters in its last two games, opening the door for an AFC North title.
Then, the Chargers are coming off an emotional comeback win in Kansas City and control their own destiny in the pursuit of the top seed in the AFC. Philip Rivers can add to his MVP resume by excelling against the Ravens’ stout defense. Rivers struggled against the Ravens earlier in his career, but shredded John Harbaugh’s team for 684 yards and 6 TDs while completing over 75 percent of his passes in meetings in 2014 and 2015.
This season, Rivers is completing 71.4% of his passes with 16 TDs and 4 INTs to post a 114.4 passer rating over seven home games. He’s been incredible down the stretch in primetime wins at the Steelers and Chiefs.
Working against Rivers and the Chargers is the potential limitations of top WR Keenan Allen. The oft-injured star departed last Thursday’s win over the Chiefs with an apparent hip stinger. Allen has drawn 121 targets this year (27 percent of all Rivers’ throws) and accounted for 27 percent of the Chargers’ receiving yardage as well.
The Chargers are listing Allen as a game-time decision. It’s possible he’s used as a decoy at times if active. Either way, he’ll have a tough time producing at his usual pace against a Ravens team that is fourth in DVOA pass defense against short throws and sixth against No. 1 receivers.
The Chargers do get a huge boost in the backfield with Melvin Gordon (knee) expected to return. Austin Ekeler (neck) is listed as doubtful.
That leaves Justin Jackson to back up Gordon, who may not be ready to handle a workhorse role after a three-week absence. Detrez Newsome impressed as a receiving option out of the backfield and could mix in for snaps as well.
However, this is a brutal matchup for running backs. Baltimore has allowed only three rushing TDs and is holding backs to 3.5 YPC on the road this season. The Ravens are also first in DVOA pass defense against opposing RBs on the year.
Opposing passing attacks have been more successful when playing at home against Baltimore. The Ravens allow an 11:3 TD:INT ratio and 88.4 passer rating on the road.
Even with Allen out, Rivers was able to throw incredibly accurate balls to Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin in a comeback win over Kansas City.
Since Baltimore is 27th in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs, Antonio Gates could be a factor as well. Zooming out, Rivers has the Chargers scoring the fourth-most points per drive (2.69) and third-most TDs per drive (.315). Regardless of his supporting cast, you can expect the veteran QB to find ways to score in another primetime game at home.
Under run-first QB Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have become a predictable team the past five weeks. Yet they’ve won four of Jackson’s five starts and took Kansas City to overtime in their sole loss.
The Chargers are ill-equipped to stop a Ravens team that’s rushed for 230.4 YPG during that span. The Bolts were shredded by Joe Mixon and the one-dimensional Bengals offense in Week 14 and yielded 3 TDs to Chiefs RBs in Week 15.
With DT Corey Liuget (quad), MLB Denzel Perryman (hamstring), and WLB Kyzir White (knee) all inactive, that front seven ranks 18th in DVOA rush defense and 22nd in pass defense against opposing backs this season.
Baltimore’s Gus Edwards is averaging 5.0 YPC while handling 96 carries since Jackson took over as the starter. What’s more, Edwards is exactly the type of downhill runner who can give the Chargers trouble.
If game script goes against Baltimore, Ty Montgomery and Kenneth Dixon will likely split work as receivers out of the backfield since Edwards has been a nonfactor in the passing game. The Chargers have allowed the second-most receiving yards (847) to opposing backs this season.
Nonetheless, Chargers do still have great coverage LBs and a pro-bowl FS in Derwin James, and rank first in DVOA pass defense against TEs. Those defenders are also capable of spying on Jackson and keeping him in the pocket. The Bolts have allowed a below-average 194 rushing yards and zero rushing TDs to opposing QBs this year.
Now, Lamar Jackson is completing less than 58.9% of his passes, has taken 11 sacks, thrown three picks, and fumbled nine times this season, including seven as a starter. Clearly, he’s still prone to rookie mistakes. But the Chargers are 28th in fumbles forced and 20th in turnovers forced per drive this season, giving Jackson a chance to string long drives together.
With Jackson under center, Willie Snead has led the Ravens with 26 targets. John Brown is second with 20 and Michael Crabtree has drawn 19. Remember though, Jackson is only attempting 22 passes per game as a starter.
Snead and Crabtree are mostly being used as possession receivers, while Brown has big-play potential with 286 air yards over Jackson’s five starts.
The Ravens have publicly leaked that Joe Flacco (hip) will be released or traded this offseason. They appear to be moving on without the former Super Bowl MVP, but that could be gamesmanship used to throw the Chargers off guard. It’s possible Flacco, who will be active as the backup, could take snaps in obvious passing situations. The Chargers have been vulnerable to the deep ball, ranking dead last in DVOA on throws down the field. Even with limited mobility, Flacco can still deliver one of the best deep balls in the business.
While the Chargers have won 10 of their last 11, they’re a more modest 7-4 against the spread during that span and only 2-5 ATS at home this season. LA is averaging 33.3 PPG over its last four wins, and the Ravens are averaging 25.6 PPG in Jackson’s five starts.
Baltimore has scored the 10th-most points per red zone trip, but the Chargers allow the 10th-fewest points in the red zone. The Ravens have arguably the best kicker in the NFL in Justin Tucker. Even if their drives stall, Tucker should put points on the board.
Yet we’re going with the Under (43) due to the pace factor. The Chargers are dead last in pace and Baltimore runs the most plays per drive (6.8) this season.
While the Ravens are playing at the third-fastest pace, their run-heavy approach should keep the clock moving and shorten the game. Defensively, Baltimore also forces the most punts (.517) and allows the third-fewest points (.167) per drive this season.
The sharps agree with over 90% of money coming down on the Under, forcing the total down its opening spot at 45 points.
Baltimore’s one loss with Jackson as a starter was three-point defeat in overtime. In their last two games against playoff-caliber teams, the Chargers have required miraculous comebacks to eek out wins.
This has the makings of a game that will go down to the wire, making it easy to ride with the more desperate team in the Ravens (+4.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook). More bets are coming down on the Chargers after their high-profile comeback wins, but more money is on the Ravens to at least cover in a must-win situation.