If we are finally ready to take the Los Angeles Chargers seriously as one of the NFL's better teams, they need to win games like Monday night.
The Chargers, perennially stocked with talent, have had big wins before. Then they have baffling losses to chase those big wins. They're the NFL's biggest tease.
The Chargers are 2-1. They lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys, which is looking better as Dallas plays well, and then won at the Kansas City Chiefs. That's a quality win. But now what?
The Chargers are 3-point favorites against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night. It's a surprisingly fun and important early season matchup.
There should be questions about the Raiders — it's hard to keep living off overtime wins, and it's not like Jon Gruden's teams haven't faded after fast starts before — but they are 3-0 and could be a playoff contender. The Raiders definitely aren't a pushover, yet it's the kind of game the Chargers should win if they've turned a corner. It seems like new Chargers coach Brandon Staley might be bringing in a new era. Perhaps the Chargers will play up to their talent level. We'll see.
Even though the Raiders have played well and it should feel like their home game at SoFi Stadium, I'll take the Chargers -3. Maybe this time it will be different.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
What other bets do we like for Monday night?
I generally try to avoid taking overs in prime-time games. Everyone bets on the night games, and most bettors like overs. Oddsmakers know this and lines can be nudged up a bit.
Still, I imagine Monday night will be a high-scoring game. Both offenses are playing at a high level. I'll take the over 51. I'll also take overs on some player props: Derek Carr over 281.5 passing yards, Justin Herbert over 297.5 passing yards, Henry Ruggs III over 3.5 receptions and 44.5 receiving yards (those lines in particular seem way too low) and Mike Williams over 74.5 receiving yards. Here's hoping for a lot of points and yards.
What else is there on Monday?
With the MLB regular season over and no ties to be broken, not much. There's NBA and NHL preseason. Yeah. At least we have a good Monday night football game.
You can also get bets in for the wild-card games. In the AL, the New York Yankees are -115 favorites over the Boston Red Sox. In the NL, the Los Angeles Dodgers are -225 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
What's the best bet?
I'll actually go with that Henry Ruggs over 44.5 receiving yards — he can hit that over with one play — but Chargers -3 can be a co-best bet.