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Oakland Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers Point Spread - Pick

Oakland Raiders (6-9 SU, 5-8-2 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7 SU, 7-7-1 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: OAK +8/LAC -8
Over/Under Total: 43.5

The Oakland Raiders come to the StubHub Center on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Chargers in a big AFC West matchup. It's still bigger for the Chargers who are trying to win their way in the postseason. They were able to post a 14-7 road-win over the Jets to keep their hopes alive on Sunday. The Raiders, meanwhile, put up a good fight and were in it the whole game against the Eagles on Monday, losing 19-10. The Chargers and Raiders met already this season in a week 6 matchup. The Chargers kicked a FG with time running out to win, 17-16. A lot has changed since then and we'll see if the Raiders can hang in there this week.

For the Chargers, it's a minor victory that they even have a route to the postseason, but they do not control their own destiny. They need to beat the Raiders and get some help. They will need the Titans to lose to the Jaguars and for the Ravens to lose to the Bengals. It's not a terribly-reasonable path to the postseason, but it's a path nonetheless. They really blew it when it mattered most, getting lit up by the Chiefs a few weeks ago with the division-lead hanging in the balance. And even against the Jets, they were far from impressive. The Chargers did well to right the ship the season, but they faded at the end and it may have cost them a spot at the playoffs.

That's the thing with the Chargers—they will always offer hope, but collapse in untimely fashion. With the roll they were on, it was hard to see a season-worst performance coming against the Chiefs with everything on the line. The offense has been erratic all season. They started off bad, got it together, and then faded down the stretch. It's like a racehorse that loses in the end, but gives you some hope along the way. At any rate, with their recent form, combined with the toughness Oakland has shown the last few weeks, this could be a tough game like the first time these teams played. Not that the Chargers won't jump up and play according to the gaps these teams have in urgency, but they usually don't.

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It looked like Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers was getting it together, but he didn't save his best for last. All in all, he was again big this season with 4128 yards. More would have been nice the last few weeks. Still, they could rise to the occasion this week and they have the tools to do it. Melvin Gordon is over 1000 yards on the ground with 52 catches. Keenan Allen has 1260 yards, with Tyrell Williams, Antonio Gates, Travis Benjamin, and others chiming in with production. It's a good offense. The line played well at times this season, but not so much lately. It's a unit that just sometimes doesn't deliver and their fluctuation in form usually follows no rhyme or reason.

Sunday was good for the Chargers if for no other reason than it stabilized the defense, which faltered badly against the Chiefs. For the most part, it's been the strong-suit of the team. The secondary had gotten a lot better, with a big pass-rush from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, along with strong play in the middle. A weak run-defense ended up costing them big in the key loss to the Chiefs. On Sunday, however, they were back to their menacing and stout ways. They did fairly well against Derek Carr the first time around, picking him off twice, and they look for something similar this week.

Oakland has really fallen off this season and the reasons are multifold. What counts now is that they just gave a pair of NFC East teams with playoff concerns good games and there is little reason to think they won't with their longtime division rivals this week. They have seen almost everything go wrong—a depreciated defense, acquisitions not panning out, injuries, and the entire combo plate of why teams generally sink without warning. Making it all worse is an extreme lack of clutch, which lies in direct contrast to what they were able to do last season. Even against the Eagles, they were in it the whole game, with a Philly FG with 22 seconds taking the lead. Oakland then bungled the final play, with the Eagles running it back for a TD. Only the Eagles kneeling on the extra point prevented a push ATS in what were some anxious moments for their backers.

Again, no one person is the problem on either side of the ball for the Raiders. Receivers dropping balls left and right, while Carr hasn't been 100%, has put a big dent in their aerial game. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree were considerably off their best form this season. Marshawn Lynch is running hungry late. The line was already erratic, but losing LT Donald Penn has made them really dicey. Jared Cook being the top receiver in the offense at less than 700 yards in not a good sign for this defense. Numbers are down across the board on this side on the ball. Still, their defense hasn't been too bad the last few weeks, playing really hard and getting some good things done. We'll see what they can manage against what should be a fired-up Chargers' offense this week.

Again, the Chargers are so undependable, especially when laying more than a TD. That's usually the least-appealing time to take them. Urgency alone, one could justify a stance on the Chargers. But they aren't playing really god football right now and I see this being an uphill battle. I see the Raiders rising to the role of spoiler and giving the Chargers enough of a hard time to cover the spread on Sunday.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 8 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Raiders-Chargers game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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