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Friday, November 24 2017

NFL Predictions 2012: Week 6

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I think I finally had a week I can be proud of. Certainly straight up going 12-2 (49-28 overall) was great. Even better I was 10-4 against the spread (38-37-2 overall) and even being a flat 6-7-1 on the over/under (39-36-1 overall) didn’t bum me out too much. 

Pittsburgh (2-2) @ Tennessee (1-4): Standings and perception can be funny. The Steelers don’t have an impressive record yet everyone believes they are going to win this game. The truth of the matter is that they are 0-2 on the road and the Titans are 1-1 at home. Part of the problem Tennessee is having is being forced to play on the road already 3 times as part of a schedule that began with three of the first four coming off a trip to the playoffs.

I might be defending them too much though because all of their losses have come by at least 21 points. In the NFL most games are tight for the most part. Winning by 10 is a feat. For Tennessee’s offense, scoring 10 points has been difficult. Exactly half of their season total in points came from their crazy 44-41 OT win over Detroit on this field, but nearly half of that (21) was the result of three return touchdowns. This offense is stuck in neutral and veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck starting is not a good thing.

The only positive from Hasselbeck going is his motivation to get back at Pittsburgh for his Seattle Seahawks losing the Super Bowl. He doesn’t have the help around him to do anything though. Chris Johnson and the running game have 0 rushing scores and rank third-worst in yards per game (65.4) with a low average rush (3.5). They face a run defense that has softened, but is still solid (95.3, 4.1) and has yielded only 2 rushing touchdowns.

Tennessee’s passing game with Jake Locker was at times explosive, but still ranks in the bottom half of the league. Pittsburgh’s secondary is again without Troy Polamalu, something they have gotten used to, and ranks third in yards allowed (184.8). The only positive there is they have just 1 pick against 8 touchdown passes given up. The sack total (8) is also average. 

If the Titans can’t move the chains and Big Ben keeps getting the ball in favorable field position this could get ugly in a hurry. Tennessee’s run defense isn’t bad when you consider average rush (4.1) as teams have piled up yardage (144.2) in volume while nursing leads. Pittsburgh has Rashard Mendenhall back now and that can’t hurt their ground attack, which thus far has been anemic (79.5, 3.1).

Ultimately Roethlisberger is going to take over this game. The Steelers are efficient if not spectacular through the air averaging a healthy 281.0 yards per game with 8 touchdowns against 1 interception and a strong completion rate (65.8%). The Titans allow an obscene completion rate (74.6%) with similar numbers in the other categories (279.6, 12 TD 3 INT). It is safe to assume the visitors will complete a high percentage, pass for a couple scores and control the action.

How versus by how much is always difficult. If the scoring averages hold this could be a high scoring game. I think the home team is going to pull out all the stops on TNF because no one likes to be embarrassed with everyone watching. Their defense tightens up just a little, and the offense musters slightly more than expected. It’s still a losing proposition: Pittsburgh 27, Tennessee 21 (PIT -5/over 43)

Dallas (2-2) @ Baltimore (4-1): This is in some ways a good spot for the Cowboys. They play in a stadium built for something other than home field advantage in a football game. I don’t know any other way to say it. A lot of the pressure falls off when they hit the road. Conversely, the Ravens are terrific on their turf and even if the visitors are coming off a bye week they should still feel confident here. Baltimore tends to play up or down to the level of competition and that explains last week’s ugly 9-6 win in Kansas City.

The first problem with the upset is running the ball. Dallas has a pedestrian average rush (3.4) and for all their overall problems on defense Baltimore still has Haloti Ngata up front (3.5). If the game is in Tony Romo’s hands does anyone know how it will turn out? This offense is fourth in passing (309.3) but with 8 interceptions mixed in and going up against a defense that has given up just 2 passing scores. Again, the Ravens are not the same as their dominating units of the past. Terrell Suggs is out, Ed Reed is hobbled and Ray Lewis is slower. DeMarco Murray might not run on them here like Jamaal Charles did last week, but he’ll get over 100 total yards.

When the Ravens have the ball, their solid rushing offense (4.9) faces a test against this Cowboys defense (3.8). Baltimore has run it only 24.2 times per game and that could be the case here if they average in the low 4’s. Pass defense has been a strength for Dallas with their new cornerback tandem allowing just 169.5 yards per game and 5 passing scores, but they have produced just 1 interception. Joe Flacco leads a strong attack only slightly behind what Romo’s group has done (297.2) with half the interceptions (4). Torrey Smith is a serious weapon and while the quantity is clearly on the other side of the field with the ‘Boys he can change the game with one big play in a low scoring contest.

I do see this as a tight, lower scoring game. These are evenly matched teams. Home field is a slight edge as is the fact that Baltimore has a roster of guys who have won big games. Dallas is a group of all-stars who blow it when it matters most. This is not a “matters most” situation and I could see the visitors pulling this out, but I believe the Ravens have home field advantage in the AFC playoffs on their minds so their focus will be razor sharp: Baltimore 21, Dallas 20 (DAL +3.5/under 44.5)

St. Louis (3-2) @ Miami (2-3): Both teams have overachieved thus far and obviously the Rams are the bigger story with the winning record. However, the Dolphins have just had some bad luck in the kicking game (twice) or they would be the ones heavily favored here. I try not to overreact to injuries, but Danny Amendola is a big loss for the visitors here. He has caught 32 of the 84 passes Sam Brad Bradford has completed this year making him by far the biggest receiving threat on the team. Brandon Gibson (13 receptions for 184 yards, 2 TD) is next.

Miami’s pass defense has given up plenty of yards (281.8) but limit opposing passers to a low completion percentage (55.8%) have a high sack total (15) and 7 interceptions. St. Louis on offense feeds right into those figures holding (57.8%, 5 picks, 15 sacks). If Bradford completes a low percentage, which is likely without Amendola to bail him out, and gets sacked 3 times while throwing a pick or two where does that leave this offense?

St. Louis has still not rushed for a touchdown and is under the century mark in yards per game (94.6). Good luck against a stout run defense giving up 61.4 yards per game and 2.7 per attempt. I find it very hard to feel good about a visiting team unable to run the ball and taking some sacks without completing much more than half their passes. Meanwhile Miami has run the ball pretty well with Reggie Bush and while it hurts not having Daniel Thomas they go up against a mediocre run defense giving up 4.4 yards a pop.

Starting a rookie quarterback is a liability, but Ryan Tannehill isn’t going to get sacked on running plays. Yes, the Rams have a great pass rush (15 sacks) and have yielded just 2 passing scores against 8 interceptions with a low yardage total (218.2). However, in this case those numbers don’t all mesh with Miami’s offense. The Dolphins have taken 9 sacks and are at an advantage at home in terms of crowd noise. Their low completion percentage (57.8%) could go up given the defense they are facing (62.3%). It’s not much, but let’s say they take 2 sacks to kill drives and complete about 60% while controlling the action running the ball they should win an ugly game: Miami 20, St. Louis 13 (MIA -3/under 38)

Detroit (1-3) @ Philadelphia (3-2): This is a gut check for the Lions. They entered 2012 hoping to take the next step forward and become legit Super Bowl contenders. Instead they have stepped back in large part due to a meltdown in Tennessee. Given a week off to mull over their three-game losing streak might not help. After this week they visit Chicago and host Seattle, two of the best defenses in the league, not a great thing for a pretty much one-dimensional offense.

Mikel LeShoure seemed to give Detroit’s running game a boost when he ran for exactly 100 yards in his debut, but a better defense (Minnesota) shut him down. The rushing edge in this game goes to Philadelphia who should be a ½ yard better per carry if the averages hold. They have the much better rushing options, including quarterback Michael Vick who has been slumping. Bryce Brown might start getting more looks at some point too.

The intriguing part of this matchup is the passing. Matthew Stafford is not looking like the 5K guy he was in 2011 and stud Calvin Johnson has now admitted (cough, Madden Curse) he suffered a concussion. Offensively they complete 66.7% of their passes, but defensively allow 66.1%. That’s interesting because accuracy has killed Philadelphia’s passing game (58.4%) as Vick keeps turning it over. Meanwhile the Eagles are tough on the opposing passers (53.6%). If Vick is allowed to complete some throws and gain confidence the home crowd should fuel that fire.

On the other hand, Stafford might be put into tougher passing situations because his running game won’t help him out. If he is looking at maybe 60% passing I don’t like those odds given the yardage he will need to be picking up on those third downs and the pass rush he is facing. The Eagles are coming off two physical games, beating the Giants and losing in Pittsburgh. There might be a fatigue factor, but I think Vick protects the ball, which is the difference: Philadelphia 23, Detroit 21 (DET +5.5/under 48)

Cincinnati (3-2) @ Cleveland (0-5): The battle of Ohio is always interesting. On paper it always feels like it will be low scoring, but the week 2 result was far from it with the Bengals winning 34-27. Second-year starter Andy Dalton threw for 318 yards while Brandon Weeden’s second start saw him produce 322 yards. Both were over 70% passing. This time Dalton has to deal with Joe Haden trying to lock down star A.J. Green whereas Weeden will be without Mohamed Massaquoi who had 5 catches for 90 yards in the first meeting. 

In other words, I don’t expect either guy to be over 300 yards this time. The accuracy will be considerably down for both of them as well. I expect Dalton to be in the mid-60’s just a few points ahead of Weeden. I look for the sacks to be split down the middle. Cincinnati has a better pass rush (18 sacks) but Cleveland protects better (9 sacks) and is of course at home.

On the ground it’s hard not to like Trent Richardson’s side. They haven’t been able to run very much (18.8 attempts per game) but against a defense allowing 4.4 yards per carry that should change. He only had 19 rushes in the first meeting and picked up 109 yards thanks in large part to a 32-yard gain. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a pedestrian effort in that one, but they take on a defense giving up 4.7 yards a pop. Ultimately I think the difference is Haden taking away just a bit of the production from the passing game and helping his pass rush in the process: Cleveland 23, Cincinnati 20 (CLE +2.5/under 44.5)

Indianapolis (2-2) @ NY Jets (2-3): I’m curious to see how this one turns out because the Colts have not travelled since the opener, a 41-21 blowout loss in Chicago. They turned in an emotional win over Green Bay last week coming off their bye, but duplicating that effort on the road is going to be difficult. It helps that the Jets are playing on a short week although they were at home on MNF.  

New York simply must get better on offense and it’s not as easy as just plugging in Tim Tebow at quarterback. In three out of four games since their 48-28 drubbing of Bills this offense has failed to top 10 points offensively. Last week they picked up a return touchdown to help them get to 17 and in a league obsessed with passing that’s not enough to get it done. Meanwhile their once stout defense has allowed 20-plus points every week. On the flip side the Colts playing with a rookie quarterback have scored 21-plus in three of their four games although their defense has also given up 20-plus every week.

I think the takeaway from those figures is that both teams have a good shot to reach 20 points and if that is the case anything can happen. Obviously both teams would love to run the ball. New York has been inept averaging just 3.2 per carry and 83.0 per game. If ever “ground and pound” is going to wake up though, this is the week. Indy allows 4.7 per carry and 135.8 per game. Bilal Powell might finally become a factor here if Shonn Greene doesn’t get going. Of course the Jets are allowing even more per carry (4.9) and a bunch more per game (172.4) but that’s because teams can’t pass on them.

I’d be more troubled by those numbers if Donald Brown was in uniform. Instead it’s Vick Ballard trying to balance the offense for Luck. About that pass defense, Antonio Cromartie is hoping to neutralize Reggie Wayne and if he does that Luck is going to be in trouble on the road. Mark Sanchez doesn’t have a great matchup here, but one bright spot is the Colts having just 2 interceptions on the season. If he protects the football and the running game functions I see New York in good shape: NY Jets 27, Indianapolis 21 (NYJ -3/over 43.5) 

Kansas City (1-4) @ Tampa Bay (1-3): Brady Quinn came into the league waiting as he slipped to No. 22 overall in the 2007 draft with the football world watching him sweat. He has waited three years since his last start and it came against the team he is now leading. How long ago was it? The Browns beat Quinn’s Chiefs 41-34 thanks to 286 yards rushing by Jerome Harrison who back then was emerging as a potential future star. In spite of the offensive outburst, Cassel’s 331 yards passing on 40 attempts dwarfed Quinn’s 66 yards on 17 attempts, two of which were picked off.

I realize Kansas City just took an elite Baltimore team to the wall, losing 9-6 last week, but the previous week they let San Diego walk on them 37-20 and have already lost three times by 17-plus points.. Tampa Bay has lost three straight, but all of them have been one-score games and two were on the road. They will need to deal with the loss of cornerback Aqib Talib, but facing Quinn is going to help the cause.  

In a way it’s hard not to like Kansas City’s chances to pass the football all over the field here considering Tampa Bay allows a ridiculous 345.3 yards passing per game and high completion rate (66.5%). With Matt Cassel they are completing just 59.0% with 5 touchdowns against 9 interceptions and have taken 13 sacks. Can they take advantage of a weak secondary? On the other side Josh Freeman has really struggled and the Bucs are below 200 yards passing per game with a low completion rate (54.6%). The Chiefs have given up a lot of touchdown passes (10) but have 12 sacks and don’t give up too many yards (205.8). If Cassel started this game I would probably be picking the visitors, but Quinn makes me nervous.

The running game is key here. Kansas City has thrived rushing for over 180 yards per game and 5.2 per carry, but they face a strong run defense (73.8, 3.2). The Bucs don’t run the ball terribly well (91.0, 3.6) but the Chiefs don’t defend it well either (121.0, 4.4). On paper this really does look like a win for the visitors. However, I can sometimes throw caution to the wind and look beyond the numbers. Freeman has had an open week to settle down and get back to what worked for him in the past. The defense will adjust to help limit the passing game. I like what Greg Schiano is doing with his team and I think the wheels are coming off for Romeo Crennel’s side: Tampa Bay 27, Kansas City 20 (TB -4/over 40)

Oakland (1-3) @ Atlanta (5-0): Obviously this is a tough spot for the Raiders, who have lost their two road games by a combined 72-19. Matt Ryan never loses at home and has his undefeated Falcons focused on this game with their bye week on deck. Oakland just had their open week, but I’m not sure it helped. They have nothing at cornerback and face an offense with multiple options in the passing game. That’s a huge problem.

If the Raiders are going to hang tough it has to start with the running game. Darren McFadden, other than a 64-yard scamper against the Steelers, has been invisible all season. Yes he has 75 touches, but that was his only score and tossing that out of his yardage total on the ground puts him at 137 yards rushing on 56 carries for an anemic 2.44 average. This is a great spot for him to wake up as the Falcons give up 5.4 yards per carry. Conversely, Atlanta’s running game is just average and might not fully take advantage of an average Oakland run defense.

I’m reaching there though, because the passing game has carried the Falcons. They want to pass first and foremost with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Running Michael Turner is an afterthought. The Raiders give up 283.0 yards passing per game, have yet to produce an interception, allow a crazy high completion rate (71.5%) and only have 3 sacks. Andre Carter is joining the fray to help that last figure, but it’s not going to happen this week.

Atlanta’s pass defense has been strong with 9 interceptions and has yielded only 203.0 yards per game through the air while recording 13 sacks. They are equipped to contain Carson Palmer who certainly has the ability to drop a big number. Denarius Moore can turn in a few big plays down the field and McFadden is always a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. Overall I don’t know how else to call this game. It might be closer, but the Falcons have let the other two teams hang with them in their building. They are due for an easy win and given what the Raiders have done on the road this year I can’t justify them staying close: Atlanta 31, Oakland 16 (ATL -8.5/under 48.5)

New England (3-2) @ Seattle (3-2): Not many people remember that Pete Carroll was the coach of the Patriots before Bill Belichick. Their styles are in stark contrast. One just wants you to do your job and the other has a lot of fun with his job. Both have winning records, but thus far the Seahawks are overachieving with their rookie quarterback while the Patriots are underachieving given their talent level. However, they are two field goals from being 5-0. If anything, losing has ticked them off.

It will be intriguing to see if this game is similar to the one New England lost 20-18 to Arizona given Seattle’s stingy defense. The rest of their games have produced 47-plus total points. The Seahawks have yet to be involved in a game totaling more than 36 points and that was their opening loss in Arizona 20-16. I think the result will be somewhere in the middle which means mid-40’s and that favors the team quarterbacked by Tom Brady.

Surprisingly the Pats are getting over this year by running the ball. They have picked up 165.4 yards per game on the ground and done so with three different backs getting at least 36 carries. The ‘Hawks are having almost as much success (140.2). Both defenses are stifling against the run with Seattle giving up just 66.6 yards per game and 3.2 per carry and New England not far behind (82.2, 3.4). Which team moves the rock? I have no idea, but I do know which team will succeed if they can’t.

On the stat sheet it’s pretty interesting when you consider New England’s passing offense (290.0) and defense (290.0) numbers compared to Seattle’s passing offense (163.0) and defense (192.0). Can the Seahawks stop Brady? Can rookie Russell Wilson take advantage of the Patriots’ secondary? The first answer might be yes if Seattle can keep up the sack dance (16). The second answer might also be yes since New England has allowed 12 touchdown passes. Big plays in key spots have saved Seattle this year, some of them not exactly legit. I think this game plays to form, and comes down to a field goal at the end, possibly in overtime: New England 23, Seattle 20 (SEA +4/under 44.5)

Buffalo (2-3) @ Arizona (4-1): It’s amazing what one game can do to a perception of a team. The Cardinals looked great while starting 4-0, but on TNF let quarterback Kevin Kolb get beat up all night during a 17-3 loss. Now no one really knows how good this team is. How bad is Buffalo though? Since building a 21-7 lead against the Patriots midway through the third quarter they have been outscored 90-10 in 5 ½ quarters of football. Um, that hurts. Last week they gave up 621 yards to the 49ers, letting just about everyone get in on the action offensively.

The only problem I see here for the Cardinals is that they have no running game. Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are both hurt, but the bigger problem is run blocking anyway. Their rushing average (2.7) is comical, but Buffalo’s defensive average (5.7) is equally a joke. If they can’t run in this spot, on their home field, it’s really bad. On the flip side, C.J. Spiller gives the visitors a chance. The Bills average 5.1 yards per carry and 144.2 per game. The Cardinals are pretty good against the run though (3.6, 103.0).

Sacks have been a major problem for Arizona (23) and while Buffalo’s total (10) isn’t huge they do have Mario Williams. If the crowd is into it perhaps it flips because the Cards can get after the passer (17) but the Bills have only been sacked 5 times. Straight passing I give a slight edge to Kolb over Ryan Fitzpatrick because of the home field advantage. We have already seen Buffalo blown away twice on the road this year and this is their third road game in four weeks with a second straight trip west. It’s a bad situation for them against a team getting a few extra days rest. I think the Cards get straight and for the moment stay tied atop the NFC West: Arizona 28, Buffalo 17 (AZ -4/over 43)

Minnesota (4-1) @ Washington (2-3): Suddenly the Vikings are looking like they are for real. The NFL schedule is a grind and last week I wondered about them handling prosperity. They did just fine, pasting the Titans 30-7. On the other hand, the Redskins are really starting to look like last year’s Carolina Panthers. Every week the games are close, but they aren’t winning. Rookie Robert Griffin III is going to play after suffering a concussion last week. If they lose here it will put them 0-3 at home and with trips to the Giants and Pittsburgh up next the season is in jeopardy.

In a strange twist, this is the first outdoor game of the season for the Vikings who have travelled to two dome teams having lost in Indianapolis and won in Detroit. It is the only natural surface in the first half of their schedule and how they perform will certainly help determine their viability down the stretch for games in Seattle, Chicago, Green Bay and Houston. They are definitely built to win on the road with defense, a running game and a quarterback who protects the football.

The respective running games will determine this outcome. Washington runs for a better average (5.1) than Minnesota (4.3) and since both teams run about 31 times per game that accounts for the rushing edge per game (162.6 to 133.2). Defensively the Vikings (3.2, 78.6) have the advantage over the Redskins (4.0, 87.8) who face a couple fewer rushes per game. I’ll take Adrian Peterson over Alfred Morris though, and I always go with the better rushing defense in a spot like this.

Both young passers have been sharp, completing almost 70% of their passes with a combined 5 interceptions while tossing about 30 passes per game. Washington has passed for more yards (254.4 to 216.4)  but they give up a lot more (328.6 to 225.6). The Vikings also have more sacks (14-8) with Jared Allen and the Redskins have allowed 13 touchdown passes. I’ll take the side more likely to win because I like going with the odds, but it doesn’t mean I’m confident: Minnesota 24, Washington 21 (MIN +2.5/over 44.5)

NY Giants (3-2) @ San Francisco (4-1): Revenge in a game like this is kind of funny. Sure, the 49ers want to beat the Giants who knocked them out of a shot at the Super Bowl, but does it really matter? Ultimately they have to do it in the playoffs. The only thing they are winning here is the ability to play a potential rematch on their home field. Still, it’s an intriguing rematch of the NFC Championship Game. San Francisco brings their vicious running game averaging a crazy 6.1 yards per attempt and 196.4 yards per game. New York has a pretty good ground game (4.8, 120.2) and their numbers pale by comparison. Defensively the scales tip things heavily towards the home team with the 49ers strong (3.5, 81.4) and the Giants vulnerable (4.5, 111.4).

If San Francisco can line up and run for 150 yards or more, they are likely to win this game, especially if New York is limited to 100 yards on the ground as these numbers indicate. Obviously Eli Manning has the edge at quarterback over Alex Smith, but the defenses make the passing numbers level out. The 49ers just need to protect the ball against a defense that has 8 picks. If the stat sheet holds both teams would throw for around 240-250 yards, but I doubt they will. A lot comes down to how much San Francisco can run and if New York’s pass rush is unleashed.

I’m not looking for anything too dramatic here. It’s going to be close because I don’t see a ton of possessions. Both offenses should be fairly successful moving the chains. I see a lot of long possessions and some touchdowns to get the scoring up. The 49ers are playing the best football in the league of late and are settled in at home in the middle of a three-game stand. This is the first long trip of the season for the Giants: San Francisco 24, NY Giants 23 (NYG +6.5/over 44.5)

Green Bay (2-3) @ Houston (5-0): As a prognosticator I hate games like this. The Texans seem like the clear team to pick. They are undefeated and have a balanced team. The Packers are mystifying at this point. Can they really drop to 2-4? I didn’t think they would put themselves in position to lose to a pair of rookie quarterbacks, but they did. Both of those games were on the road as this one is.

Houston is playing on a short week having traveled to New York, or specifically New Jersey, to slide past the Jets. It was their third road game in four weeks. Now they return home where they have won blowouts over Miami (30-10) and Tennessee (38-14) who clearly aren’t in Green Bay’s class. Focus could be a problem with a rematch with Baltimore, who knocked them out of last year’s playoffs, on deck.

Amazingly, the Packers actually have a better average per carry (4.3) than the Texans (3.9) but in yards per game the edge flips dramatically (97.2 to 143.0) because Arian Foster gets a lot of touches. Green Bay allows a reasonable average rush (4.3) while Houston (4.0) is slightly better and has yet to give up a rushing score. The loss of Brian Cushing hurts, but there is no question the Texans are going to run for more yards here. 

The key stat in the passing game is sacks allowed. Matt Schaub has gone down just 3 times while Aaron Rodgers has hit the deck on 21 occasions. Both teams can get after the passer, but home field combined with those numbers will put Houston at an advantage. Green Bay’s higher completion rate (68.8% to 63.8%) is offset by Houston’s defensive completion rate allowed (51.2% to 58.5%). Both teams should complete about 60% but if Rodgers is getting sacked he is more likely to turn it over. Plus, Schaub has the running game supporting him. The Packers are without Cedric Benson who would have been back at home in Texas. As much as I want to go out on a limb here I just can’t. The Texans know they were flat on MNF and want to look better on SNF with the nation watching: Houston 24, Green Bay 21 (GB +5/under 47.5)

Denver (2-3) @ San Diego (3-2): The Raiders and Chiefs are a combined 2-7 so this is clearly a huge game in the race to win the AFC West and this year 10-6 or even 9-7 might do it. The Chargers can obviously take a big lead with a win here on their home turf and both teams have an open week on deck so they will let everything hang out on MNF.

San Diego comes home after two weeks on the road, winning in Kansas City and losing in New Orleans. Denver is coming off a trip to New England where they lost 31-21. For what it’s worth the Broncos have been involved in a lot of high scoring games. Only their 37-6 whipping of Oakland produced fewer than 48 total points. The Bolts have been involved in three such games as well so a high scoring game is very possible.

Clearly the quarterbacks are the story here. Philip Rivers is leading this team because Peyton Manning’s brother refused to play here. The running games could set the pace though. Ryan Mathews might finally be ready to make an impact for the Chargers. Offensively both teams are pretty equal running for about 4 yards a pop and just a smidge over 100 yards per game. Defensively the average rush allowed for both is just below 4, but teams run at Denver more so they give up a lot more yards per game (120.2 to 74.0).

Passing offense goes heavily in Denver’s favor. They pass for a whisker below 300 yards per game and San Diego gives up some yards (260.0). The Chargers aren’t bad through the air (250.2) but the Broncos can defend the pass (215.0). Pass rush is also in favor of the visitors although the home crowd could offset that. I can see the upset here, but I don’t believe the Chargers are going to lose consecutive games on national television. They are mad. Drew Brees showed them up last week. Peyton Manning is piling up some garbage yards. I think Mathews is going to show up here at long last: San Diego 26, Denver 20 (SD +1/under 49)

 

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