A matchup with playoff implications will take place on Sunday Night Football when the Las Vegas Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers.
With equal 9-7 records, both the Raiders and the Chargers are facing win-and-in scenarios here, making the stakes even higher.
Let’s break down this all-important game and discuss which sides of the moneyline and total to consider in our NFL pick of the day series.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 3:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 7.
Sunday Night Football Prediction Week 18
The Raiders have put themselves in position to make the playoffs by winning three games in a row.
Two of those wins came on the road, the most impressive of which came against the Colts in Indianapolis in Week 17. While their offense wasn’t great, Hunter Renfrow and Zay Jones combined for 15 receptions, 196 yards and one touchdown.
Although the Raiders have won three in a row, none of those victories came easy considering they were each by four points or fewer. Going back even further, five of their last six games have been decided by four points or fewer.
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After back-to-back losses to the Chiefs and Texans, the Chargers were starting to see their grip on a playoff spot slip away heading into Week 17. They bounced back in a big way, though, knocking off the Broncos by a score of 34-13.
One of the keys to their success was getting Austin Ekeler back from a one-week absence because of COVID-19. He finished with 112 total yards and a touchdown.
When these two teams met previously, Ekeler rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown in a 14-point win for the Chargers. Add in the advantage that the Chargers have at quarterback with Justin Herbert leading the way, and the Chargers could punch their ticket to the playoffs by winning this game.
SNF Week 18 Pick: Chargers 31, Raiders 24
Sunday Night Football Best Bets Week 18
SNF Best Bet: Chargers Moneyline (-160) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
Given how many close games the Raiders have played in lately, going with the current spread of Chargers -3 could be tricky. Also, when two division rivals are going up against each other with a playoff spot on the line, crazy things can happen.
With that being said, the Raiders were fortunate in two of their three recent wins. In one game, they defeated a Browns team that had to start Nick Mullens at quarterback. In another, they beat the Broncos with Drew Lock under center.
Facing Herbert is an entirely different situation.
SNF Best Bet: Over 50 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
The Raiders offense hasn’t been great, scoring 23 points or fewer in five consecutive games. However, the Chargers’ defense has been a mess, allowing an average of 26.5 points per game.
Los Angeles has been especially bad at defending the run, allowing the third-most rushing yards per game in the league. That could mean that Josh Jacobs helps the Raiders have a better-than-usual scoring performance.
While the Chargers’ defense has been bad, their offense has been excellent. They have scored at least 28 points in each of their last five games and have scored at least 30 points six times this season.
That could result in this being a high-scoring affair.
Mike Barner’s season record: 19-27-1 (-11.12 units)
Thank you for reading our NFL Week 18 SNF Predictions & Best Bets! For more NFL betting tips, check out our NFL bet of the day.