Oakland Raiders (6-9 SU, 5-8-2 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7 SU, 7-7-1 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +8/LAC -8
Over/Under Total: 42
In AFC West action on week 17 from the StubHub Center, the Oakland Raiders take on the Los Angeles Chargers. For the Chargers, their playoff hopes are alive and they need a win and help. It might not be easy against a Raiders team they barely beat earlier in the season. The Chargers held up their end of the deal on Sunday, scoring a 14-7 road-win over the Jets to keep their prospects alive. The Raiders gave the Eagles a good game on Monday, falling 19-10, while hanging in there the whole game. Can they play the role of spoiler? Or will the Chargers give themselves a chance with a big home win. Again, the Chargers beat the Raiders once this season, kicking a field goal with time running out to win 17-16 in week six.
The Chargers can make the postseason with a win this week, along with losses by the Titans and Ravens. Its not a clear path by any means, but its not out-of-the-cards either. Its a double-edged sword for the Chargers to be in this spot. There arent a lot of teams that start the season 0-4 and are still in it in the final week of the regular season. At the same time, they faded in untimely fashion, playing their worst game of the season with the division on the line against the Chiefs two weeks ago. And against the Jets, we saw a depreciated version of the Chargers again, as they were fortunate to get the one-score win. The way they were playing heading into the Kansas City game, one would have tended to expect a better finish to the season. The defense gave up a season-high in points to the Chiefs in their biggest game of the year and weve seen an offense that was thriving grind to a halt the last few weeks.
The Chargers can be a difficult team to root for. Ever since getting to the Super Bowl over two decades ago, they seem to follow this pattern of instilling hope, only to snatch it away at the most inopportune time. The offense has been all over the place this season, causing more of that same sensation. They really got their act together after a rough start. Philip Rivers was cooking and on a roll. He was making good use of his talent, with Melvin Gordon having good games and Keenan Allen on fire at wide receiver. An important game against the Chiefs with the AFC West hanging in the balance was a strange time to sag and they didnt look a lot better against the Jets. Still, Rivers has 4128 yards, with Melvin Gordon over 1000 yards on the ground and a good aerial presence. Allen is at 1260 yards, with Antonio Gates, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, and others chipping in. Still, for how well they have done at times this season, they didnt really save their best for late.
At least the Chargers defense was able to steady itself on Sunday, holding the Jets to one lone score. Its hard to forget that when it counted, they melted in Kansas City. But theyve been a big part of the Bolts success this season. They carried the team when the offense was still working out the kinks. It might be the best Chargers defense seen in well over a decade. The secondary has really whipped itself into shape and makes a lot of plays. They did really well against Derek Carr in their first game of the season, intercepting him twice. They get a great pass-rush from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, though they cooled down the last few weeks. And though they were able to camouflage a weak run-defense for most of the second-half of the season, its started to become more-apparent the last few weeks.
The Raiders havent had much to celebrate this season. That makes it more impressive in a way that theyve been able to summon some wherewithal to give the Cowboys and Eagles two really big sweats in consecutive games. They nearly blew it ATS against the Eagles on Monday, with the 19-10 score not doing justice to the fact that the Eagles needed a FG with less than 30 seconds left to break a tie, with a botched last-ditch Raiders attempt being run back for a TD. Looking at the Raiders, its clear that there are many sources for the letdown season. And its nothing terribly uniqueinjuries, acquisitions that fell flat, a fall-off in form on both sides of the ball, and a lack of the clutch late-game flair that they specialized in last season. But after making life hard on two out-of-conference teams that had playoff tie-ins, this week seems like a weird time for them to stop showing up.
There have been a lot of issues on offense. Not all of them are injuries. The bottom-line is that Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are well off the form that helped them both go over 1000 yards last season. Their leading receiver this season is tight end Jared Cook, who is below 700 yards. Marshawn Lynch is running pretty well lately and could be a factor in this game against a dwindling Chargers run-defense. Derek Carrs numbers are down and hes been banged-up this season. Losing LT Donald Penn makes an inconsistent O-line that much more-dicey. Nothing has really lined up well for the Raiders this season.
The Raiders have had issues on the defensive side of the ball, as well. On defense, when the game is on the line, they havent been able to respond. Last weeks loss to Philly was a case in point, as was their earlier loss this season to the Chargers. And when the Chargers are making good things happen late to beat you, thats when you know you have problems. They just havent gotten the consistent kind of playmaking they got last season, with only Khalil Mack a dependable source of positivity on this side of the ball. Over the last few weeks, however, they have shown good form and look for more this week.
When the Chargers were pulling themselves up from an 0-4 start, they started doing better in a betting sense. When big things are expected of the Chargers, thats when covering spreads can get tough. And the number this week isnt altogether appealing in what could very well be a tightly-contested game, despite the gap in urgency between the teams. Either stance can be justified here, but I see a tough divisional game where things wont be so easy for the Chargers. Ill take the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 8 points. – Not all sportsbooks are created equal! Many are fly by night, poorly run and your loot is actually at risk. End that problem today by signing up at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted sportsbooks! Online for over 15 years, your credit card will work and you’ll also receive a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!