Both teams come into the last game of the NFL Season with no chance to win the division, but roughly a coin flip’s chance to clinch a wildcard spot with a victory. This is essentially a playoff game. Oddly, despite having the same record, and being in the same division, they come in with very different scenarios, with the Chargers needing to win, while the Raiders are in if they win, but could still qualify with a loss if the Colts and Steelers both lose.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 26-19-1
Best Bets: 30-19, Up 1358%
- Opening Line: Los Angeles -2.5
- Current Line: Los Angeles -3
- Over/Under: 49.5
- Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
- Start Time: 8:20 PM EST, MON 1/9
- Last Meeting: Chargers 28, Raiders 14 in LA earlier this year
Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders summed up the Chargers best, saying “The Chargers are talented, exciting and not yet baked all the way through. Justin Herbert keeps their offense grooving, and the defense plays well enough to win in most weeks. But special teams gaffes, a penalty disadvantage, and an inability to finish drives makes them a liability in close games. The Chargers would be near the top of the AFC Super Bowl chase with better luck and a better kicking game.” In other words, regardless of the outcome of this game, it’s clear this team is at least a year away from serious contention, especially if positive regression from (you count the unending variables) ever comes to LA.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have managed to cling to their wildcard playoff hopes after three straight victories over winning-ish teams (the Browns are .500). It’s very possible, as we alluded to back in week 6, that the “it was the coach, not us” motivational factor could have lasted multiple weeks, elevating the Raiders base level of play. Ironically, one of the great differentiators between these teams is the way EDJ Sports ranks these coaches. The young Brandon Staley comes in at #1, while the ghost of Jon Gruden/flesh and blood of Rich Bisaccia come in at #25. A strength like this may be just the thing that turns the tides in a critical week 18 matchup.
- The Chargers are 6-2 SU in their last eight games against the AFC West.
- The Raiders are 3-6 ATS in their last nine games.
- The Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games against the Chargers.
Not that it’s likely to happen, but if somehow the Colts and Steelers both lose before this game, the scope of this matchup drastically changes as the Raiders would have nothing to play for. Assuming this does not happen, it’s hard to ignore the significant difference in coaching abilities between these two squads. As mentioned, this is exactly the spot where that kind of edge can win/lose a ball game. We have to play Chargers here, especially if you can get them back at 2.5 (or buy the half point).
Prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 14
The Picks: Chargers -3, UNDER 49.5
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