LA Chargers @ Las Vegas (+1.5)
Power rankings: LA Chargers 22, Las Vegas 18
Spread update: This line has moved away from the model. Vegas is now 2.5 point dogs.
Keys to the game: The Chargers offense sits at 23rd in offensive DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. Their offensive line is bottom tier and without two starters -- both C Corey Linsley (concussion) and RT Trey Pipkins (knee) are out. LT Jamaree Salyer -- who is filling in for an injured Rashawn Slater -- is solid in pass protection, but they're weak at all other positions. Pipkins isn't a great tackle, but his replacement is Foster Sarell, a 2021 UDFA who has played 75 total snaps in his career and given up 7 pressures in just 59 pass-blocking snaps. Maxx Crosby is one of the best pass rushers in the game and lines up exclusively over the right tackle where he'll have a massive advantage against Sarell. The good news for the Chargers is their problems should end there, as the Raiders defense is dead-last in both defensive DVOA and EPA/play. Most know by now about how great Justin Herbert is, but people are surprised to know that the Chargers have a dink and dunk offense. Herbert's average depth of target of 6.7 is second lowest in the game, but that works out well against the Raiders who are dead-last in short passing DVOA. The Chargers will still be without Mike Williams (ankle), but both Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler will present problems for the Raiders. For the ground game, the Chargers offensive line prevents efficiency -- they are 1 of 5 teams in the NFL averaging less than a yard per carry before contact. The Raiders run defense is 23rd in DVOA -- far from impressive, but better than their pass defense.
The Raiders offense is 11th in DVOA and 13th in EPA/play. Derek Carr isn't having his finest season -- he ranks 19th in PFF grades and is completing 63% of his passes while averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. The offensive line is bottom-tier -- they're strong at the tackle positions (LT Kolton Miller is very good) but their interior is poor. They should be fine against the Chargers defensive line that can generate pressure with Khalil Mack and nobody else -- similar to the Raiders, they're a one man show (Joey Bosa is on IR). They are also 29th in run defense DVOA and dead-last in yards per carry allowed (5.4), while the Raiders rushing offense is 4th in DVOA, led by Josh Jacobs who is 1st in PFF grades among all running backs. Jacobs is technically questionable with a calf injury, but he practiced all week (albeit as limited), which should put him on the optimistic side of questionable. For the passing game, DeVante Adams is averaging 121.76 receiving yards per game over his last 4 and is facing off against a bottom-tier cornerback room (both Bryce Callahan and Assante Samuel Jr are having disappointing seasons). TE Foster Moreau and Mack Hollins are decent enough complimentary options. The Chargers defense features a dynamic safety in Derwin James, a swiss-army knife player capable of covering the slot, blitzing the quarterback, or playing free safety. Even still, they're 22nd in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play -- the stars don't make up for the weaknesses.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay (-3.5)
Power rankings: New Orleans 24, Tampa Bay 9
Spread update: This line remains at 3.5.
Keys to the game: The Saints offense is 23rd in DVOA and 24th in EPA/play. Andy Dalton is an incredible 5th in PFF grades, completing 66.4% of his passes and gaining 7.5 yards per attempt. The key to Dalton's success is his refusal to put the ball in harm's way -- his turnover worthy play percentage from PFF is 1.9%, tied for 3rd in the league (with Tom Brady). They have a few play-makers between Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, and Alvin Kamara, but their offensive line is one of the worst in football. RT Ryan Ramczyk is an elite tackle while LT James Hurst is decent in pass-protection, but there's problems everywhere else. It is an interesting matchup against the Bucs defense (7th in DVOA, 9th in EPA/play) -- they don't generate a ton of pressure, but excel with their secondary and linebackers. On the line, only Vita Vea is a competent pass rusher, but since he's a tackle he could have a field day against the Saints line. Vea is technically questionable with a foot injury, but since he played through it last week he should play this week as well. This will be a good test for Dalton to see if his newfound success is genuine or not.
The Bucs offense is 17th in DVOA and 21st in EPA/play, doing far better throwing the ball (10th in DVOA) than running (31st). The offensive line took a hit last week when star RT Tristan Wirfs injured his ankle/leg last week. His replacement is Josh Wells, which represents a major downgrade at the position. That said, the Bucs will still have a decent offensive line and Brady gets rid of the ball in 2.28 seconds on average, which is 2nd fastest in the league. Despite some big names (Cameron Jordan/Marcus Davenport), the Saints pass rush has been below average this season, which could make it difficult to take advantage of the Wirfs injury. The strength of the Saints defense (which is a mediocre 15th in DVOA and 14th in EPA/play) is their linebacker core (Kaden Elliss and Demario Davis) and safety tandem (Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye), but their cornerback room is bottom-tier. Marshon Lattimore has had success in his career shadowing Mike Evans, but he hasn't played since week 5 with an abdomen injury. There's a good chance Lattimore returns, but it still begs the question on who will cover Chris Godwin and Julio Jones.