What the NFL covets for the regular-season finale is a pivotal game, a win-or-else matchup.
The league got it with the Raiders hosting the Chargers. Barring a tie — oh, please, not one of those — either Las Vegas or Los Angeles will be heading to the playoffs. Pretty cool for these two AFC West rivals, and for the NFL overall.
“I think we all know what’s at stake here on both sides. It’s a huge game,” Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa says. “These are the kinds of games that you wish you were playing this time of year — and we are this year. It’s just a great opportunity for both sides. I think we all grasp that, for sure. I think all of the coaches have a really great sense of urgency along with everybody this week. We definitely understand what’s at stake.”
A tiny bit more might be at stake for the Chargers, because Las Vegas still could get into the postseason if it loses. It would need lots of help elsewhere in that scenario — one the Raiders don’t want to contemplate.
“I think it’s going to be exciting. I think it’ll be loud. It’s basically our playoff game for our fans and all that kind of stuff,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “So, what an exciting time for the last game of the season to mean so much for our city and for our organization. To think about where we’ve come from, to see where we’re at today with a chance against a really good football team, it’s exciting.
“And hopefully it’s a loud atmosphere. Las Vegas, we need you.”
And Pro Picks needs Las Vegas to come through. The Chargers, No. 14 in the AP Pro32, are 3-point favorites at the No. 15 Raiders in the prime-time conclusion to the first 17-game season in league history.
UPSET SPECIAL: RAIDERS, 23-22
KNOCKOUT POOL: The 49ers kept it rolling for folks still surviving. WASHINGTON seems the logical choice to end the regular season.
No. 24 Washington (minus 6 1/2) at No. 30 New York Giants
The question is whether the Giants will find the end zone.