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Chargers vs Raiders Thursday Night Football Picks and Predictions

Los Angeles Chargers vs Las Vegas Raiders NFL Week 15 Thursday Night Football Game kicks off on December 14, 2023 at 8:15pm et.

Chargers vs Raiders:

When: 8:15 PM ET, Thursday, December 14, 2023
Where: Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada

Easton Stick has an eye-popping record as a starting quarterback but he is an unproven commodity as a professional.

But with Justin Herbert’s season over due to a fractured right index finger, Stick moves into the spotlight and makes his first NFL start when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.

Stick is in his fifth season with the Chargers (5-8) but had just one career pass attempt prior to replacing Herbert in the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-7 home loss to the Denver Broncos. The 28-year-old completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards as Los Angeles lost for the fourth time in five games.

Now the player who went 49-3 at FCS power North Dakota State from 2015-18 will become the Chargers’ main man after Herbert underwent surgery Tuesday to end his streak of 62 consecutive regular-season starts. Stick also learned behind Philip Rivers during his Chargers’ career.

“I’ve watched Justin obviously, Philip. That’s the standard,” Stick said Tuesday of expectations. “The quarterback play has been really good here. Just trying to do my best.”

Third-year Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley has observed the progression and said Stick, a fifth-round pick in 2019, will be ready to perform against Las Vegas (5-8).

“I think that he has really improved mechanically,” Staley said. “Then, he’s really sharp. He studies, he’s a gym rat and he gives you that dimension with his legs.”

The Chargers signed rookie Max Duggan to the active roster Tuesday to be Stick’s backup. Duggan was the star quarterback for TCU last season.

The Raiders also have a quarterback trying to prove himself in rookie Aidan O’Connell.

The fourth-round pick out of Purdue won’t be reminiscing about Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 171 yards and an interception as the Raiders totaled 202 yards and eight first downs in their third straight setback.

Las Vegas has averaged just 11.5 points over its last four games. Overall, the Raiders are tied for 28th in scoring offense (15.5 points per game) and 29th in total offense (277.7).

In O’Connell’s seven appearances (six starts), he’s passed for just four touchdowns while being intercepted seven times.

“I still have full confidence in myself to do this,” O’Connell said. “I’m learning every week what it takes. I’m working extremely hard to put a good product on the field. I’m not doing it right now, so I gotta do better.”

Raiders coach Antonio Pierce said he will consider returning to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who started six games earlier this season and also has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven).

“We’ll just go through the process,” Pierce said. “Not going to rush to make any decision. We will not do anything emotional based off what I read here, what anybody’s telling me. I’ll go off my gut.”

Whoever plays quarterback for Las Vegas will be wary of Chargers pass rusher Khalil Mack, who leads the NFL with 15 sacks. That also matches his career high, set with the Raiders in 2015.

In Los Angeles’ 24-17 home win over Las Vegas in Week 4 — also O’Connell’s first career start — Mack recorded six sacks, one shy of the NFL single-game record.

Healthwise, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (quadriceps) and defensive end Maxx Crosby (knee) both missed Tuesday’s practice.

Jacobs ranks sixth in the NFL with 805 rushing yards while Crosby is tied for third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks. He had two sacks in the solid defensive performance against Minnesota to become the fifth player in Raiders’ history with at least 50 sacks.

“We held them to three points,” said Crosby, who has 51 sacks in 79 career games. “We didn’t play perfect, but we did enough to win the game. We just fell short.”

Chargers star receiver Keenan Allen (heel) missed Tuesday’s walkthrough. He leads the NFL with 108 receptions and has 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

Cornerback Deane Leonard (ankle/heel) also hasn’t practiced this week for Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media

Free NFL Picks and Predictions:

For this Chargers vs Raiders Thursday Night Football game, I’m rolling with the Chargers Team Total Over 13.5 Points -148.

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