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Pro Picks: Easton Stick will lead Chargers to an upset road win over Raiders in first NFL start

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Pro Picks: Easton Stick will lead Chargers to an upset road win over Raiders in first NFL start
AP
ROB MAADDI
December 13, 2023

Pro Picks is a weekly column where AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi shares his picks for upcoming games. For all previous Pro Picks, head here.

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Easton Stick will be the latest backup to make his first start in a season filled with injuries to high-profile quarterbacks.

Justin Herbert joined a growing list of signal-callers who’ve suffered season-ending injuries, paving the way for Stick to make his first career start Thursday night when the Los Angeles Chargers (5-8) visit the Las Vegas Raiders (5-8).

Stick came off the bench after Herbert went down in a loss to Denver last week and completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards.

The Raiders have lost three in a row after interim coach Antonio Pierce won his first two games. Aidan O’Connell and the offense couldn’t do anything in a 3-0 loss to Minnesota and Pierce wouldn’t say Wednesday if veteran Jimmy Garoppolo would start against Los Angeles.

The Raiders are 3-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Pro Picks looks to continue its winning ways on Thursday nights and will take the road team.

UPSET SPECIAL: CHARGERS, 20-17

ATLANTA at CAROLINA

Line: Falcons minus 3

The Desmond Ridder-Drake London connection is heating up for the Falcons (6-7). Atlanta can’t look past the woeful Panthers (1-12) with first place very much in play.

BEST BET: FALCONS, 24-13

MINNESOTA at CINCINNATI

Line: Bengals minus 3 1/2

The Vikings (7-6) are turning to their fourth starting quarterback, going from Joshua Dobbs to Nick Mullens. Jake Browning has saved the season for the Bengals (7-6) after Joe Burrow went down. Cincinnati has scored 34 points in consecutive wins.

BENGALS, 27-20

PITTSBURGH at INDIANAPOLIS

Line: Colts minus 2 1/2

Mitch Trubisky will make his second straight start filling in for injured QB Kenny Pickett and the Steelers (7-6) aim to rebound from consecutive losses to teams that entered with two wins. They might be without star edge rusher T.J. Watt. The Colts (7-6) had their four-game winning streak snapped last week, but they’re right in the middle of the AFC wild-card race.

COLTS, 24-17

DENVER at DETROIT

Line: Lions minus 4

The Broncos (7-6) have won six of seven to climb within one game of AFC West-leading Kansas City. Russell Wilson could have a big day against a defense that’s allowed an average of 29.8 points over the past five weeks. The Lions (9-4) have a comfortable lead in the NFC North, but their shaky defense is a major concern.

LIONS, 27-26

TAMPA BAY at GREEN BAY

Line: Packers minus 3 1/2

Baker Mayfield’s last-minute touchdown pass against Atlanta put the Buccaneers (6-7) on top of the weak NFC South. Now, they’ve got to find a way to win another road game against a team fighting for a wild-card spot. The Packers (6-7) are on a short week after they were on the wrong end of Tommy DeVito leading the Giants to a comeback win Monday night.

PACKERS, 20-17

CHICAGO at CLEVELAND

Line: Browns minus 3 1/2

With Joe Flacco providing a steady hand at quarterback as well as the team's stingy defense, the Browns (8-5) have a chance to put some heat on the AFC North-leading Ravens. They can’t afford a slip-up against the improved Bears (5-8). Justin Fields has led Chicago to consecutive wins.

BROWNS, 23-19

NEW YORK JETS at MIAMI

Line: Dolphins minus 8 1/2

After a major collapse in the final minutes Monday night against Tennessee, the Dolphins (9-4) can’t let up against another inferior opponent. Zach Wilson is coming off his best game for the Jets (5-8) and they still are clinging to slight playoff hopes.

DOLPHINS, 23-17

NEW YORK GIANTS at NEW ORLEANS

Line: Saints minus 6

DeVito has turned into a folk hero after leading the Giants (5-8) to three straight wins to put them one game behind a bunch of teams in the NFC wild-card race. Derek Carr and the Saints (6-7) catch New York on a short week. New Orleans has covered the spread just twice in the past eight games.

SAINTS, 23-16

HOUSTON at TENNESSEE

Line: Titans minus 2 1/2

Fresh off an improbable comeback win in Miami on Monday night, Will Levis and the Titans (5-8) look to spoil Houston’s playoff hopes. The Texans (7-6) have lost two of three and QB C.J. Stroud is in concussion protocol. If he doesn’t play, Tennessee has the upper hand.

TITANS, 22-17

KANSAS CITY at NEW ENGLAND

Line: Chiefs minus 9 1/2

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (8-5) are frustrated following two straight losses. Bill Belichick’s Patriots (3-10) had an extra few days to prepare after a Thursday night win.

CHIEFS, 27-13

SAN FRANCISCO at ARIZONA

Line: 49ers minus 13 1/2

The 49ers (10-3) have taken over as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, but can’t afford to look ahead to a prime-time matchup against the Ravens on Christmas. San Francisco has been favored by at least 13 points twice in the past four games and didn’t cover the spread either time. The Cardinals (3-10) are 1-2-2 against the spread as a double-digit underdog in the past 10 games.

49ERS, 30-17

WASHINGTON at LOS ANGELES RAMS

Line: Rams minus 6 1/2

The surprising Rams (6-7) have moved into the NFC wild-card race by winning three in a row before an overtime loss at Baltimore. The Commanders (4-9) have lost four in a row and coach Ron Rivera’s seat is getting hotter.

RAMS, 26-20

DALLAS at BUFFALO

Line: Bills minus 1 1/2

Josh Allen saved Buffalo’s season with an impressive performance in a win at Kansas City. Now the Bills (7-6) even have a shot at the AFC East, but Dak Prescott and the Cowboys (10-3) have been scorching hot during a five-game winning streak.

BILLS, 31-28

BALTIMORE at JACKSONVILLE

Line: Ravens minus 3

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (10-3) can strengthen their grip on the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a road win. Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars (8-5) are reeling after two straight losses.

RAVENS, 27-23

PHILADELPHIA at SEATTLE

Line: Eagles minus 3 1/2

The Eagles (10-3) are on the ropes after two straight lopsided losses. They’ve lost seven in a row to the Seahawks (6-7) and haven’t won in Seattle since 2008. Geno Smith is banged up for the Seahawks, who’ve lost four in a row.

EAGLES, 30-23

Last week: Straight up: 8-7. Against spread: 8-6-1

Overall: Straight up: 128-80. Against spread: 109-91-8.

Best Bet: Straight up: 9-5. Against spread: 6-7-1.

Upset Special: Straight up: 8-6. Against spread: 10-4.

Thursday: Straight up: 11-5. Against spread: 12-3-1.

Monday: Straight up: 8-9. Against spread: 12-4-1.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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