This NFL season has been surprisingly good to the Atlanta Falcons — but also surprisingly bad to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Falcons find themselves at 4-4 but atop the AFC South, while the Chargers sit at 4-3 and second in the AFC West. A quick glance at the NFL odds reveals that the Chargers — fresh off a bye week — are sizeable road favorites. Bettors should tail these Chargers-Falcons predictions and picks or check out OddsShopper’s tools for other smart plays.
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Chargers Have Struggled Against the Run
Brandon Staley’s Chargers haven’t turned the corner to become true AFC West competitors quite yet. While they can blame injury issues for holding them back, as star left tackle Rashawn Slaterstar cornerback JC Jackson and star receiver Keenan Allen have missed all significant time, their 2022 season is off to a disappointing start nonetheless. The Chargers rank 16th in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) and are solidly below average in expected points added (EPA) per play.
The Chargers have leaned on their passing game and rank 30th in rushing play percentage (34.4%). The ground game hasn’t really worked when they’ve tried to use it — Los Angeles ranks 28th in yards per rush attempt (3.7), and lead running back Austin Ekeler ranks 31st among 37 eligible backs in rushing defense-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR). His offensive line ranks 29th in adjusted line yards and 32nd in run-block win rate.
As a result JustinHerbert has had to carry this offense. He is doing his best — his 65.9% completion percentage ranks 14th among 35 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts, and his 6.15 net yards per attempt (NY/A) ranks 17th. But the Chargers’ lack of a running game and Herbert’s tendency to check down — his 6.3 intended air yards per attempt (IAY/A) ranks 32nd — have led the Chargers to rank just 20th in yards per play (5.3).
The Chargers also don’t have much of a defense. Although they rank a solid 16th in defensive DVOA, they also rank 29th in yards allowed per play and 31st in points allowed per game (27). The rushing defense has proven especially impotent, as the Chargers rank 32nd in yards allowed per rush attempt (5.7) and 27th in rushing yards allowed per game (137.6). Opposing running backs have accounted for 93% of that per-game yardage.
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Falcons Running Well But Struggling Against the Pass
Arthur Smith has somehow turned the Atlanta Falcons into a divisional contender. None of Atlanta’s individual players have more than 400 scrimmage yards, and all rank outside of the top 75 in the metric. But with the team opening Cordarrelle Patterson’s return window this week, Atlanta’s offense could get one of its most explosive playmakers back as the team looks to move over .500. Despite his multi-week absence, the Falcons rank 20th in total DVOA and are just slightly below average in EPA per play.
Atlanta’s offense has relied almost entirely upon the run. The Falcons rank second in rushing play percentage (57.6%), and they now only slightly trail the Bears. Atlanta ranks 13th in yards per rush attempt (5.5) and fifth in rushing yards per game (158.1). That’s helped their offense rank ninth in offensive DVOA and 13th in yards per play (5.5). Their offensive line ranks a solid 11th in adjusted line yards but only 27th in run-block win rate. That said, it won’t be hard for Atlanta to find holes against Los Angeles’ struggling run defense.
Unfortunately, Atlanta’s defense hasn’t played well. The unit ranks 31st in both defensive DVOA and yards allowed per play (6.3). Things have only gotten worse for Atlanta lately, as the injury to AJ Terrell and worse have play led them to allow an NFL-high 6.9 yards per play over the last three weeks. Terrell will remain out this week. With the Falcons ranked 30th in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.7), 32nd in passing yards allowed per game (306.9) and 32nd in pressure percentage (11.5%), Los Angeles’ passing offense won’t face much resistance this Sunday.
Final Chargers Falcons Prediction & Pick
This game is a bit tricky to handicap because of Atlanta’s solid rushing attack and slow offense. The Falcons rank 31st in seconds per play (31.4). But despite their pace, opposing teams have still rattled off plenty of passing yards on the 31st-most passing attempts per game (40). While their game plan will likely involve keeping the ball out of Herbert’s hands, whatever success they find on offense will force Herbert to throw the ball early and often.
Backing Herbert to go over his total passing yards is risky because neither wide receiver Keenan Allen normal mike williams is healthy. Instead, bettors should back Gerald Everett to surpass a modest passing yardage prop. Everett has averaged 43.6 receiving yards per game this year on 6.4 targets but is in line for even more work due to the banged-up receiving corps. It helps that the Falcons have allowed the third-most receiving yards per game to tight ends (69).
Everett has also dominated the red-zone looks from Justin Herbert. Only running back Austin Ekeler has a larger share of red-zone targets among the Chargers’ active players, with Ekeler drawing 22.2% of the looks and Everett drawing 17.8%. Since Everett’s anytime touchdown odds sit well in the plus money, bettors should wager a half-unit on that market too.
Final Chargers Falcons Prediction: Gerald Everett Over 48.5 Receiving Yards (-114) at FanDuel
Gerald Everett Anytime Touchdown (+220 for 0.5 Unit) at DraftKings
Chargers-Falcons OddsShopper Model Prediction
OddsShopper’s industry-leading tools allow bettors to identify the best available lines on all sorts of betting markets, from traditional spreads and totals to player props — and even quarter- or half-based derivatives! Bettors can sign up for an OddsShopper account to access our model’s predictions and best bets for each game. For the Week 9 Chargers-Falcons matchup, the model has identified Atlanta as a team to target on first-half markets.
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