Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Playoffs

Which team makes the AFC playoffs: Chargers or Raiders?

The last game of the regular season will be between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders.

In the biggest game of Week 18, the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) will host the division rival Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) on Sunday Night Football with a trip to the AFC playoffs on the line.

While the Bolts beat the Silver and Black in their first meeting of the season, that was months ago. It was the Raiders’ first loss of the season and shortly before Jon Gruden resigned as head coach in disgrace. In the months since, the Raiders have been one of the most competitive teams in football. All the while, the Chargers have been a mainstay inside of the AFC playoff picture.

Assuming the Indianapolis Colts do not lose a moronic one to the utterly toothless Jacksonville Jaguars, only one of these AFC West teams is making the postseason. Will it be the Chargers or will it be the Raiders?

Who is making the AFC playoffs between the Chargers and the Raiders?

Despite the game being at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders are home dogs. Since getting the snot beating out of them by the arch rival Kansas City Chiefs, the Silver and Black have won essentially three playoff games in a row over the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Colts. While all three were low-scoring affairs, the Raiders have shown they can win games in multiple ways.

Conversely, the Chargers are 2-2 in their last four games. While they have wins over the crumbling empire that is the New York Giants and the division rival Broncos, they too got smoked like barbecued ribs by the Chiefs. More telling, the Chargers lost an unthinkable one to the Houston Texans, the second worst team in the AFC South ahead of only the aforementioned awful Jaguars.

From a pure talent standpoint, the Chargers should win this game. They have the more complete team and have had to endure far less chaos than their AFC West counterpart. However, games are not won and lost on paper; they are decided on the field of play. With a raucous home crowd, this will be the biggest game the Raiders have played since they moved from Oakland two years ago.

From a quarterbacking standpoint, Justin Herbert is more talented than Derek Carr, but these are two top-10 quarterbacks in the league. As far as skill-position playmakers and defensive stars, the Bolts have the leg up in both of those departments as well. However, the Raiders are playing for something bigger than the Chargers right now. They can eke out a tight one vs. the Bolts.

If Maxx Crosby and company can provide consistent pressure on Herbert, Gus Bradley’s defense will be opportunistic enough to steal a possession from the favored Chargers. Where Las Vegas does have an on-field advantage is on special teams. Rich Bisaccia’s side of the ball has won this team plenty of games it should not have this season. They will do that once again this Sunday.

As Daniel Carlson’s game-winner goes through the uprights, the Raiders will fly the Jolly Roger.

Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 24

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