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3 Best Prop Bets for Week 16: Ravens vs Chargers

A Baltimore Ravens flag flying on the field pregame.
The Baltimore Ravens likely need a win in LA to keep a hold on the final playoff spot in the AFC. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License].
  • The Baltimore Ravens vs LA Chargers highlights the Saturday NFL slate in Week 16.
  • The Ravens need a win to consolidate their chances at a playoff spot.
  • The Chargers still have hopes of earning the #1 seed in the AFC.  

The Week 16  matchup between the Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 3-4 away) and Los Angeles Chargers (11-3, 5-2 home) abounds with playoff implications. The Ravens are only a half-game behind Pittsburgh for the AFC North title, but are also a tie-breaker away from falling behind the Colts and Titans in the Wild Card race.

The Chargers, meanwhile, can earn home-field throughout the AFC playoffs if they win their final two games and the Chiefs lose once.

Let’s look at the best props to bet when the Ravens and Chargers tangle at StubHub Center in a rare Saturday game (8:20 PM ET, Dec. 22nd).

First, a quick recap: my prop bets in the last TNF game of the season (Chargers vs Chiefs) went 3/3, but that only brings my season total to -$42.71. My ego refuses to end the season in the red, which puts substantial pressure on my brain in the final two weeks of the year.

Prop #1: First Score Over 6.5 Minutes into the Game

Time of First Score Odds at  BetOnline
Over 6.5 minutes -115
Under 6.5 minutes -105

The over/under for this game is at a low 43.0. Baltimore brings the best scoring defense in the NFL (18.1 PPG) and the 2nd-ranked defense per DVOA.

The Chargers’ D is 9th in scoring and 12th in DVOA. It’s unquestionably the best unit Lamar Jackson will have faced in his six career starts. His first five starts came against literally the five worst scoring defenses in the NFL, and five of the bottom six defenses in DVOA.

  • Cincinnati: 31st in scoring, 28th in DVOA
  • Oakland: 32nd in scoring, 30th in DVOA
  • Atlanta: 29th in scoring, 32nd in DVOA
  • Kansas City: 28th in scoring, 27th in DVOA
  • Tampa Bay: 30th in scoring, 29th in DVOA

So don’t overvalue the fact that Baltimore has scored on 3/5 opening drives in those games.

The Ravens’ defense has only given up a score on its opponents’ opening drive three times all year; and, as good as Philip Rivers has been for most of this season, he’s been a slow starter.

Continuing on a trend I noticed last week, the Chargers have now failed to score first in nine of 14 games this year. They have only scored on their opening drive in six of 14 games.

Prop #2: First Score of Game is a FG or Safety

First Score of Game Odds at BetOnline
Touchdown -170
Field Goal or Safety +150

Both teams are stingy in terms of field goals surrendered. Baltimore is tied for 4th-fewest with just 18 FGs allowed; LA is tied for 6th-fewest with 19.

They have both been a little lucky, however. Chargers’ opponents have a FG% of just 79.2% (19/24), which is 25th in the league. Baltimore opponents have been even worse (78.3%, 26th overall). There’s a very good chance that luck runs out on Saturday. 

Everyone recognizes that Justin Tucker (28/30, 93.3%) is the consensus best kicker in the league, even if he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl.

What most people don’t recognize is that the Chargers finally have a reliable kicker, as well. Michael Badgley is 14/15 since joining the team and even hit a 59-yarder against Cincinnati. “Reliable” might be an understatement.

In a game where points will be at a premium, don’t expect Anthony Lynn to be hyper-aggressive like he was last week against the Chiefs.

Prop #3: Chargers to Win by 1-6 Points

Margin of Victory Odds at BetOnline
Chargers 1-6 Points +325

This Baltimore team does not get blown out. They have lost two games by double-digits all year: Week 2 @ Cincinnati (34-23) and Week 8 @ Carolina (36-21). Their other four losses have been by 3, 1, 7, and 3 points.

Their defense is going to keep them in the game from start to finish, and the offense won’t have to deal with the usual road-crowd noise because the Chargers have no home-field advantage.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have shown a penchant for winning close games, with their last three wins coming by no more than five points. In total, they have won six non-road games this year (including one in London), and three of those were by 1-5 points.

At +325, you only need a 24% probability for this bet to have value. The -235 moneyline on the Chargers gives LA a 70% chance to win. If we skew that down 10% to account for the vig, we’re at 63%. If there’s roughly a 50% chance that a Charger win comes by 1-6 points, then we wind up with a probability that is a little over 30%.

I see value.

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