Oakland Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Date and Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: StubHub Center, Los Angeles, CA
Opening NFL Odds: Chargers -7.5
Chargers vs. Raiders TV Coverage: CBS
The Chargers are going to rue some of the close losses they had early in the season. Their three-point loss to the Broncos and two-point loss to the Eagles stung, but the one game they had in their grasps and really let go was a 19-17 game at home against Miami. A missed field goal at the gun was the only thing preventing the Bolts from winning that one, and had that kick sailed true, we'd be talking about a team that was playing for its playoff life in Week 17 instead of relying upon Tennessee to continue its freefall.
The Bolts have won five of their last six games, and they continue to be one of the more-impressive teams in the league. No one is going to want to see this team get into the playoffs, knowing that it can be a huge thorn in the side of any team that it faces, even on the road.
But taking care of business in this one isn't guaranteed. The Raiders might have ultimately lost 19-10 to the Eagles on Christmas night, but they had a shot to win that game in the end and played a really good game defensively.
That said, Derek Carr and the Oakland offense were terribly disappointing this year. Neither Amari Cooper nor Michael Crabtree had a huge impact on the season, and Carr has only thrown for 3,330 yards. Sure, he missed a game due to injury, but this is a man who felt destined for over 4,000 yards in his return from a broken leg at the end of the campaign last year.
The Raiders enter this game having lost three straight, scoring just 42 total points in those three games. In that span, they have just five offensive touchdowns.
Melvin Gordon came out of Week 16 with an ankle injury, and there are already reports surfacing that his season could be over with. This isn't a devastating injury that is going to take months to heal, but high ankle sprains are weird injuries for running backs.
The Bolts aren't anywhere this year without Gordon. He is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but without his 267 rushes, Philip Rivers stands no chance of standing in a clean pocket.
Remember that Hunter Henry is already on injured reserve. If the Chargers are now without their best tight end and their best running back, they could have some tough sledding against the Raiders in their finale.
Raiders vs. Chargers Free Picks
Let's remember that the Los Angeles offense hasn't exactly been stellar over the course of these last two games. The team only mustered two touchdowns in a lackluster victory against the Jets on Christmas Eve, and it was held to 13 points against the Chiefs the week prior.
Though we do think L.A. is going to get the job done and win this game, putting the pressure on the Titans to win for that last playoff spot, this is a lot of points being given to us by the best football sportsbooks. The Raiders have Cooper back in the lineup for the end of the year after an injury-riddled campaign, and though he hasn't been a massive difference-maker, he can still provide those one or two moments that give an underdog some hope in a game.
The Raiders won't go down without a fight, and they'll press the Chargers to make plays in the fourth quarter to win in Week 17.
NFL ATS Pick: Raiders +7.5 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Chargers 26, Raiders 23