Roommates will battle it out for SoFi Stadium supremacy in Week 17 when the Chargers “host” the Rams. The AFC squad is designated as the home team here, but both teams will be able to enjoy the comforts of home in what will be the second-to-last game of the season for the Rams and the second-to-last game of the regular season for the Chargers.
The No. 5 seed in the AFC is important because that team heads on the road to face either the Jaguars or Titans, whereas the No. 6 seed, which is where the Chargers are sitting, has to face one of the Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs or Bills based on how the last two weeks shake out. The Chargers clinched a playoff spot last week, but their opponent is to be determined.
Rams at Chargers (-6.5, 42)
For a team with nothing left to play for but pride, the Rams looked like a team heavily invested in the playoff picture last week. The 51-14 win over the Broncos felt like a seminal moment for this year’s group. Only one other time this season had the Rams scored at least 51 points in a two-game span. They had scored 52 points over the previous three games combined.
The win wound up getting Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett fired and came against a Denver team that had allowed more than 23 points on only two other occasions. The Rams offense has more life with Baker Mayfield at the helm and it does seem like Sean McVay may be working a little bit of magic with the former first overall pick. If nothing else, he would be a much more viable backup to Matthew Stafford next season.
The Rams racked up 6.1 yards per play and crossed 150 yards on the ground for just the second time this season. The task at hand will be much tougher against the Chargers, though. The defense has gotten healthier over the last few weeks and greatly improved, holding their last three opponents to just 34 combined points.
Offensively, the Chargers haven’t scored more than 23 points since Week 5. They’ve had some nice yardage outputs in that span, but haven’t done a great job of converting drives into touchdowns. Recently, they have improved a bit in the red zone, but still rank 26th in touchdown percentage. They have 55 red-zone trips, but only 27 touchdowns. That may not hurt them against teams like the Rams, Colts and Titans, but will be something that needs to improve against playoff competition.
Out of nine wins this season, the Chargers have won by more than 6.5 points only twice. One came last week against the hapless Colts with Nick Foles shaking off months worth of rust and the other was a 10-point win over the Texans that the Chargers led 21-0. Those are two of the worst teams in the NFL. The Rams aren’t a good team, but they’re not among the league’s worst.
As a result, I think the Rams can keep it close here, particularly with a low-scoring expectation and the improved look of the offense with Mayfield at the helm.
Pick: Rams +6.5