After 17 long weeks of NFL action, the regular season finally comes to an end on Sunday. Even after almost four months of Football, some teams are still fighting to make it into the postseason on the final game day. Let’s have a look at which teams have something to play for in week 18 of the NFL?
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Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders - Winner enters the playoffs
The old phrase ‘winner takes all’ can seem quite stereotypical in modern-day sports, but that’s exactly the situation at Allegiant Stadium on week 18.
The LA Chargers enter Monday night with a 9-7 record, knowing a win can take them to the postseason. A win would also guarantee sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert his first experience of playoff action - an action he thoroughly deserves after another incredible season.
As for the Las Vegas Raiders, they’ve had to battle difficulties on and off the field. First, head coach Jon Gruden was axed after racist comments from the past resurfaced. In addition, Henry Ruggs III was charged with the murder of a woman in a drink-driving incident. But the Raiders have persevered.
Much like the Chargers, the Raiders’ success is falling in the hands of Derek Carr. The veteran quarterback has set a career-high in passing yards with 4,618 and he has turned the Raiders into one of the best deep ball offenses in the NFL.
Prediction: The Chargers get the victory away from home.
The rest of the AFC picture
The Baltimore Ravens are truly the team on the outside looking in. They still have a shot for postseason action but they need numerous things to fall in their favour.
Firstly, the Ravens have to take care of business at M&T Bank Stadium. If they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ll improve to 9-8 on the season, but they can only play into January if the LA Chargers lose, the Indianapolis Colts lose to Jacksonville, and the Miami Dolphins are defeated by the Patriots.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a similar position to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday - win and they have a chance.
For the Steelers to make the playoffs in Big Ben’s final year, they need to beat Baltimore. In the other games, they also need the Colts to drop one against the 2-14 Jacksonville, and they can’t have the Chargers @ Raiders game end in a tie.
Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.