Just a little over 24 hours from now the Chargers will be taking the field against the Las Vegas Raiders in a game that will decide the playoff fates of either team.
It’s “win and you’re in” for these two squads who have fought like hell on a weekly basis to make it here. Brandon Staley has his Chargers team humming after a big win over the Broncos while the Raiders and Rich Bisaccia were able to sneak a win out from under the Colts in week 17.
In week four, the Chargers smacked the Raiders 28-14. As much as we’d all like to take that result and let it drive our confidence this week, this is a different Raiders team than they were three months ago. At the same time, this also isn’t the same Chargers club. In a game between these two divisional opponents, anything and everything can happen.
As of this morning, the Chargers are three-point favorites over the Raiders according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Curious to see what our writers predicted for the season finale in primetime? Let’s go ahead and take a look.
Michael Peterson: The Chargers are the healthiest they’ve been in weeks and that bodes well for them heading into Sunday night. On the other side, the Raiders are getting back tight end Darren Waller for his first game since their win over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. In that game, he caught just four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. A decent game, but Derwin James and company will be strapped to him all night long. If the Raiders want to win this game, the rest of their playmakers will have to step up.
Drue Tranquill is set to return this week which is also a huge addition back for the defense. That front seven will need to have another big day against Josh Jacobs and the Las Vegas backfield. Jacobs rushed for just 40 yards on 13 carries in their earlier matchup so we already know the Chargers are capable of limiting his production.
I think the Chargers offense is the difference-maker in this one. They’ll outpace an offense that has only scored 20 or more points once in the past five weeks. Final Score: Chargers 31-20
Matthew Stanley: The playoffs start Sunday for the Chargers and I think they will be ready. Justin Herbert shines brightest under primetime lights and I don’t see that changing this week. This is the healthiest the Chargers have been in over a month, specifically Derwin James, who is 3-1 vs the Raiders in the four games he has played against them. The special teams unit has come a long way from what they looked like in week four, and that was their biggest weak spot in a game they still won by 14 points. Unless the Chargers team that traveled to Houston shows up, I think the Chargers win and secure the seventh, and final, playoff spot for the AFC. Final Score: Chargers 34-24
Garrett Sisti: Offensively, the Raiders have shown they can hang with anyone. Derek Carr has put up monster passing yards stats and Hunter Renfrow has quietly developed into a WR1 in the league. Defensively, the Raiders have a pair of pass rushers that the Chargers are going to have to contend with and I think this matchup is going to go like the first one. Austin Ekeler had 117 yards on the ground last time they played each other and I think it’ll be another big day for “P4P.” Head coach Brandon Staley had his team ready to play last week in a must win game and I think he’s going to out-coach Las Vegas and take advantage of the Raiders’ shortcomings on especially the second level in the passing game. Chargers will win and to secure the seventh and final playoff spot. Final Score: Chargers 30-24
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.