Bolt Beat Week 17 Staff Picks: Playoffs still within reach

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 15: Hayes Pullard III
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 15: Hayes Pullard III /

The final week of the regular season is upon us and we’re still able to mention the Los Angeles Chargers and the postseason in the same sentence.

The Chargers meet the Oakland Raiders in Week 17, a team they already have a win over this season. It will be tough for the Chargers not to do a lot of scoreboard watching in this one as they’ll need to not only beat the Raiders, but get a little help to reach the playoffs.

Of course, the Raiders could end their disappointing season on a high note if they can come into StubHub and end any chance the Chargers have of reaching the postseason.

For the final week of the season, the writing staff here at Bolt Beat is going to give you its predictions for this game but as a bonus, we’ll also predict how the two Wild Card spots in the AFC playoff race will play out.

Each writer’s win-loss record for the season is in parentheses.

Alexander Insdorf (10-5): “The Chargers come into this game on Sunday with a chance to get into the playoffs, which is all they could ask for after the loss to Kansas City a few weeks ago. The Raiders seem like a very winnable matchup as they’ve been playing very sloppy football as of late, but the Chargers have been known to dabble in that as well. That said, I got the Chargers winning in a really close game, not quite covering that 7-point spread though. The team is still dealing with some injuries, but the Raiders seem to be in some serious turmoil at the moment. FINAL SCORE: OAK 20-LAC 24.

However, the Chargers don’t control their own destiny as we all know, and need a little bit of help to get in. The scenario that I’d bet on is probably a Titans loss and a Ravens win that would put the Ravens and Chargers in as the wildcard teams, at the 5th and 6th seeds respectively. I was actually really thinking the Titans would beat the Jags next week to get into the playoffs, but with the news that came later that the Jags are playing their starters, I changed my opinion. I think the Titans are really out of sync at the moment and can’t handle the Jags with how great that defense is.”

Scott Iger (8-7): “Wow, what a crazy ride this year has been for the Chargers. A win this week versus the Raiders in conjunction with a Titans loss and a Ravens win and/or a Bills loss could lead to some playoff magic for our Bolts. I’ve been riding with them all year thus far, and I’m gonna stick with them this week against the Raiders. 24-21 Chargers in a close one.”

Tanner Wrape (4-4):“After an 0-4 start, the Chargers are playing a meaningful game in week 17. Pretty incredible. Win or lose, this team appears headed in the right direction finally. 

To sneak into the playoffs, the Chargers need some help but the only thing they should be worried about is taking care of business against the Raiders. The Raiders have come far short of expectations but are not to be taken lightly. 

I really hope the Chargers get the help they need because I think they will take care of the Raiders in a close game; 24-17. 

In terms of who takes the last two playoff spots in the AFC, I have to go with the Chargers and Ravens. I see the Ravens beating the Bengals and the Jags spoiling their division rival in the Titans. It could be a great day for Chargers fans as long as we take care of business. Hold on tight, week 17 is going to be a wild ride.” 

Sean Kirk (6-2): “The Chargers will face the Raiders in hopefully not the last game of the season. The Raiders are not a good team and have nothing to play for. The Chargers defense will shut  down anything the Raiders try to do on offense especially with the likely return of Perryman (hopefully Liuget will be back too). On offense, the Chargers will hopefully get back Okung to help get Rivers more time to torch a very bad Oakland secondary. Chargers 24-14.

My best hunch is that the Ravens win over the Bengals, Chargers win over the Raiders, Bills win over the Dolphins and Jaguars win over the Titans. This would mean the Ravens are the 5th seed and the Chargers would get the 6th seed. Hopefully, this is what happens.”

Kade Dohmen (7-8):“Lose and you’re eliminated. I think Lynn knows, Rivers knows, and this team is going to know. Raiders have nothing to lose, which worries me a little. Chargers, however, have everything to lose. And I don’t think they will. Bolts win, 27-21

I think the Titans lose to the Jags, the Ravens clinch their spot and the Bills win, wishing they’d have started Tyrod Week 11. This means Ravens and Chargers make it in as the 5 and 6 seeds, respectively.”

Anthony Totri (10-5):“It’s gonna be a win for the Chargers. Philip Rivers and company show up to play and get to a Wild Card game next weekend with the help of Joey Bosa. The Bolts’ defense should be able to shut down a relatively disappointing Raiders’ offense. Chargers 24 – Raiders 10.

As far as the other team getting in I’d have to say the Ravens. They have a win and they’re in scenario against a weak Bengals squad.”

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Tyler Schoon (6-7):“We’ve beaten this time on the road once this year, and there’s a good chance the Chargers take care of the Raiders at home to improve to 9-7. Joey Bosa has been largely missing in the pass-rushing department for a couple of weeks, but boy does he like to sack Derek Carr. Expect him to apply the pressure we are accustomed to seeing with Raiders’ tackles Donald Penn and Vadal Alexander not playing. Marshawn Lynch is enough of an animal to make this game worrisome in the first half when the score is close. Luckily, the Raiders’ defense isn’t too great, and has nowhere near the interior line that the Jets did, nor the defensive backfield. Philip Rivers will get the win, 23-17, but will they get in?

The Ravens will likely not lose to the Cincinnati Bengals, so they will be one of the AFC Wild Card teams. The Titans, however, are going to give Jaguars all they can handle. Most seem to believe that it’s a shoe-in that Jacksonville beats Tennessee, but earlier in the season that same Jaguars team got whooped 37-16 by the Titans. It’s going to be a nail-biter, but the Titans will lose this one. The Jaguars have improved a lot since then, and have a lot of pride to play for this Sunday. So, what does that mean? The Chargers are the sixth seed. Homer bias? Absolutely. But is it likely? Yes it is. Go Bolts!”

Matt Pagels (10-5): “After how the Chargers played last week, I’m not feeling super great about this game. That said, the Chargers are the more talented team and I think they come away with a close win. As for Wild Card, I think it comes down to Baltimore and either Tennessee or Los Angeles. Call me biased, but because the Jags aren’t resting their starters and the Titans are an overrated 8-7 team, I think the Chargers sneak into the playoffs.”

Travis Wakeman (11-4): “I’d really like to pick something different here, even if just for argument sake. But I don’t think I can. However, here’s something no one is talking about. The game is at StubHub and I almost guarantee you’ll see more silver and black in the stands than you will Chargers colors. Will that have an effect on the game? Of all the playoff-clinching scenarios facing the Chargers, I think defeating Oakland is possibly the toughest. I say the Chargers find a way to pull it out late, barely. Chargers 24, Raiders 21. 

On the other side of the coin, the team needs to hope for a Titans loss. On paper, that seems likely. But I don’t know how good the Jaguars actually are. I think the Jags pull out that game, but it won’t be easy. There’s no way Baltimore loses to the Bengals and I’ll give the edge to Buffalo over Miami, but it won’t matter for the Bills. Ravens and Chargers get the Wild Card spots.”