San Diego Chargers (5-7 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (4-8 SU, 3-8-1 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +1/CAR -1
Over/Under Total: 48
The San Diego Chargers come to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday to take on the Carolina Panthers in week 14 action. Neither team had a good time of it on Sunday, both absorbing losses that unofficially remove both teams from postseason contention. The Panthers were exceptionally awful on Sunday, suffering a 40-7 blowout loss to the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. The Chargers, meanwhile, were unable to keep the lead (whatís new?) at home against Tampa Bay, losing their 7th game of the season, 28-21. Who can get it done and notch the cover this week?
The Panthers looked like they might be coming alive a few weeks ago. Three wins in four games had them looking a little better, but they have since dropped two in a row and at 4-8, this has to be a bitter pill to swallow for a defending conference champ that was listed among the short list of Super Bowl favorites this season. There was not a lot of fight in this group in their 40-7 hammering at the hands of the Seahawks. Seattle put up 533 yards of total offense and other than one big pass play, the Carolina offense was stymied for the entire game. Ted Ginn has been excellent and besides that, the offense has been in the dumps.
Teams can sometimes have seasons where nothing goes right, almost as if theyíre snake-bitten. On Sunday, with Cam Newton in violation of a dress code, he was sat out for the first play of the game and Derek Anderson threw a pick. It was a bad sign of things to come. All aspects of the offense have suffered this season. A line hampered by injuries has been decidedly poor. The run-game has been inconsistent and hardly bankable. While the line and injuries to the ground game have affected Newtonís ability to thrive, last seasonís MVP has been a negative force this season, both with his play and overall attitude. They went from a team making headlines for their great play and a 15-1 record to a team where all you hear is Newton complaining about this and that. They lost whatever they had that made them one of the best teams last season.
Last season, the Carolina defense was a key to their success. This season, they are 27th in points allowed. In the last two weeks, they have allowed 75 combined points. They are without their top player in Luke Kuechly, which really hurts on this side of the ball. Losing Josh Norman, who departed before the season, was more of a loss than the front office could have imagined. With S Kurt Coleman also out, the secondary bears no resemblance to the group weíve seen in recent seasons. DE Mario Addison is also out and itís been a struggle. The only good thing about this defense was their run-stopping ability, but a run-defense that had allowed an average of 80 yards a game allowed triple that with Seattle putting up 240 rushing yards on Sunday night.
The Chargers fell to 5-7 on Sunday, probably putting to bed the postseason for a team that is better than their record suggests, while not being able to notch the close wins. With any luck at all, this could easily be an 8-4 team. But theyíre not and in this bottom-line business, thatís what counts. Itís just that when a game is there to be won, the Chargers get the worse of it far more often than not. All 7 of their defeats are by one-score margins. They took a lead on three separate occasions against the Bucs on Sunday and couldnít bring it home. But this is not a team that anyone has been able to dominate.
The Chargers canít get things to line up right. For the few months of the season, Philip Rivers was struggling to get support, with receivers, the line, and the defense letting him down. But with 10 picks in the last five games, it is now Rivers who has been instrumental in recent San Diego losses. Still, Rivers deserves credit for making something out of an offense that was tattered by injuries in the skill positions. Heís been able to work with no-name receivers like Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman, both of whom caught touchdowns on Sunday. Melvin Gordon has been a shining light on this team, delivering both on the ground and through the air. He should pass 1000 yards early in the first quarter of this game and he has over 400 yards aerially. But unlike some teams, this is a group that seems to be at its worst late in games.
The San Diego defense has been hampered big-time by injuries. There are more projected starters on the injury list than on the field. Still, they have retained enough power to be dangerous on occasion. It didnít help on Sunday that some of those guys werenít on-point. Hot-shot rookie defensive end Joey Bosa registered a sack, but he and partner in crime Melvin Ingram did not have their best overall games. They keep getting good playmaking with Casey Hayward registering his 7th pick, which leads the league. But like the offense, this is not a group that has thrived in late-game situations. It was a defense worth watching this season, but with a prolonged visit by the injury bug, they were never able to really get on the right track.
One could be correct in suspecting that being on the outside looking in as far as the postseason is easier for the Chargers to stomach than the Panthers. Theyíre coming off a 4-win season, while Carolina was a Super Bowl favorite coming off a 15-win season and a Super Bowl appearance. And this may have been evident on Sunday, with San Diego in a battle with a hot Tampa team, while the Panthers laid down for the Seahawks. Iím taking San Diego.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 1 point.
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