Chargers Vs. Jaguars Spread, Props, Analysis From DraftKings’ Johnny Avello

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justin herbert

He will play through the pain.

That’s the nationwide consensus of NFL bettors regarding Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and his fractured rib cartilage dilemma.

Based on public sentiment, one would never know the Chargers leader is grimacing in pain as they prepare to host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Chargers are -7, a fat number for a team that has traditionally labored to win at home.

Midweek bettors at DraftKings nonetheless backed the Chargers with 62% revenue, 67% on the Under 42 and an astounding 93% on the moneyline.

It’s not surprising that 93% of the public thinks the Chargers will win this battle of 1-1 teams.

What is surprising is that they would bet into a prohibitive moneyline number of -305.

It comes down to one word.


Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told

“You have to admire this guy, it didn’t like he could even get his arm up during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, but here is he throwing two pea passes in crucial situations.

“Justin Herbert not only gets them the first down in these situations, but he gets them in the end zone,” Avello said of Herbert’s last TD, leading to a back-door cover for the Chargers against the Chiefs. They were getting four points, but only needed three in a 27-24 setback. “He’s a gutsy guy.”

If there is one blessing for Herbert, it’s that the injury occurred on a Thursday night game. Herbert will have 10 days between tilts when the Chargers host the upstart Jags.

Avello noted:

“He’s got more than a whole week to recover and I think that’s really going to be good for him. Personally, I think he’s going to be all right. This game is not exactly a gimme game, there is no such thing in the NFL, but his team is home and plays a Jacksonville team that hasn’t had a whole lot of success over the years.

“Jacksonville did a nice job beating the Indianapolis Colts last week (24-0) and that’s a team that I think can win seven games. But with the Chargers, you know you are not playing Kansas City again this week. You are not playing a team like the Philadelphia Eagles (who scored 62 points in their first six quarters of play). This is not the kind of game in which you will need a ton of points to win.”

Herbert, the DraftKings chalk of +350 to lead the league in passing yards, went 33-of-48 with 334 yards, three touchdowns and a pick against Kansas City.

Will injury affect Herbert’s style of play?

Although he wants to gut it out against the Jags, he will play a controlled game if allowed. If the Chargers can win with short swing passes and a time-consuming run attack, they will do everything possible to protect their quarterback.

Gerald Everett and Austin Ekeler had 10 targets apiece last week. Twenty passes to the backs is not only unusual, but a good way for Herbert to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

The betting line will tell gamblers all they need to know about  Herbert’s condition, in any week.

Most starting quarterbacks can affect impact the betting line by a couple of points if they don’t play. Herbert’s impact is more substantial.

“It’s going to impact the line pretty significantly if he doesn’t play,” Avello noted. “Chase Daniel can play if he has to be the backup, but from what I saw in this kid last week, Herbert, in his young career, is all of five or six points to the betting line if he’s not playing.”

Fortunately for Chargers fans, and bettors, he’s playing.

Bettors will have to adjust on some level, however. It would not be surprising to see the 48 number of pass attempts come down a little. That could affect yardage totals.

Herbert is going to be one of the most watched players in the NFL every week.

Avello’s analysis puts Herbert in the top tier of quarterbacks in relation to the betting public.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers has long been considered the king in this department. He’s been known to change a line by nine points if people believe he won’t play.

When Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs was sidelined for a couple of games two years ago, the impact was considered eight points.

Herbert is in top company.

Another Young Gun: Trevor Lawrence

Some bettors will figure seven points with Lawrence is a gift. The second-year pro is maturing for the Jags along the same plane Herbert did a couple of years ago. The Jags are starting to believe that what type of day Lawrence has will have a big bearing on the contest.

Can Mack Stay On the Attack

This shifts some focus to the Chargers’ defense, which was stellar against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1 and respectable against the Chiefs.

Khalil Mack is tied with Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys with four sacks.

Mack notched three sacks in the season opener and had one against the Chiefs. He also forced a fumble in Week 1.

Mack has been dominant along with Joey Bosa.  It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that pace.

Early Prop Bets Up at DraftKings

The Chargers have an over-under of 27.5 points. The Over is +100 and the Under is -120. Fairly telling. The early edge to the Under implies that the game total will then be closer to the Chargers’ first game, 43, than the second, 51. It also suggests a deliberate, ball-control attack for Los Angeles, if weekend bettors want to agree.

Here are the Chargers’ team totals with odds:

  • 0-10 +2000
  • 11-20 +340
  • 21-30 +130
  • 31-40 +235
  • 41-50 +950
  • 51 and above +4500

These are a more favorable option than similar bands of six points, seen in the margin of victory props. Ten points is a reasonable range in which the team’s final point total to land.

But the small number in the 21-30 range discourages the hedging maneuver of taking consecutive bands, trading half the payout for double the chance to win. 

Where Will Williams End  Up in This?

As suspected, Mike Williams had a big game and was targeted 10 times in Week 2. If Herbert is reluctant to throw deep this week, however, that number could drop.