San Diego Chargers (4-6 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +1/HOU -1
Over/Under Total: 47
The San Diego Chargers come to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Chargers had last week off, which followed a disheartening loss to Miami, 31-24, that sent their record to 4-6. A more-dangerous team than their record suggests perhaps, San Diego has let numerous wins slip from their hands this season and looks to avoid that with Houston. The Texans fell to 6-4 on Monday Night Football in Mexico City in a 27-20 loss to the Raiders. They now look to regroup at home, still clinging to a narrow first-place lead in the AFC South.
Houston had a rough shake of it on MNF. In addition to playing in the faraway and high-altitude locale of Mexico City against a good team like Oakland, they also had the refs to deal with. First was what looked like an early DeAndre Hopkins TD that was called back. Then a few ball-spots late in the game were key. With Houston close, hey appeared to get the first down and didnít even get the call on replay. And with a laser in Brock Osweilerís face most of the night, itís understandable that the team and their backers would feel cheated after narrowly missing covering the spread.
Houston, not very good away from home this season, was doing well against the Raiders. The Oakland run-game was kept in-check and the Houston defense was playing a good game until a pair of final-quarter Oakland touchdowns spoiled it. They played well enough to win and now they return to NRG Stadium, where they are 5-0 this season. They showed signs of life on both sides of the ball last week and Houston needs to fortify themselves mentally with a rested and dangerous Bolts team headed into town.
Osweiler has been a lot better at home. He wasnít that bad overall on MNF, as he was hitting his receivers with some regularity, while getting support in the backfield by Lamar Miller, who was over 100 yards with a score. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was productive with 82 yards. With him, Hopkins, Will Fuller, and others, they still havenít really been able to get things clicking aerially this season. They have yet to eclipse 27 points in scoring and itís just not a very exciting group. Naturally, they rely a lot on their defense.
There are a lot of things to like about the Texansí defense. The pass-defense is really top-notch and beyond that, they play at their best when the situation is at its most critical. Most of Oaklandís big pass plays on MNF were of the catch-and-run variety, as the Houston secondary was stingy when Carr tried to go downfield with the ball. Theyíre getting good play from corners Kareem Jackson, Jonathan Joseph, and the rest of their secondary. Up front, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercillus, Vince Wilfork, Benardrick McKinney, and others are shining and trying to make up for the loss of JJ Watt.
San Diego still stands out as a dangerous team heading into week 12. Their injuries are not the type that can be addressed by a bye, but it didnít hurt for a team decimated by personnel issues to get some extra rest. Any amount of late-game clutch would have them licking their chops at a postseason spot. As it is, theyíre in a spot where theyíd probably have to win out to get a wild card. On Sunday, they were up by three with four minutes remaining and ended up losing by 7 in regulation. Philip Rivers was uncharacteristically off-target with four picks.
Rivers was certainly off against Miami, though dropped balls and a line that was dominated up-front didnít help any. The bye was key for the O-line, as they appeared to hit a wall in their last game. Again, itís been hard for the Chargers to soldier through all the injuries. Rivers has made the most of what he has while getting a big boost from the second-year play of RB Melvin Gordon, who has been getting the job done both on the ground and as a useful pass-catching threat. Aging Antonio Gates has reintroduced himself in the past few weeks and is always a reliable threat when heís playing well. Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and others have helped with most of this offenseís heavy-hitters lost early in the season. They average 29.2 points a game, which is near the top of the league.
The San Diego defense has been particularly hurt by injuries. The defense being fielded now bears little resemblance to what they trotted out in game one. They can get after the QB, with rookie Joey Bosa helping the front and Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane. Melvin Ingram is a force, but they now look for banged-up players to fill up that middle, where hey have been decimated by the injury bug. And the secondary, which at full-strength was looking like a top group, has not been able to avoid injuries, either. Guys will start filing back into rotation this week and this is a side of the ball where things could get better with time. Even so, itís this groupís lack of clutch that has been the culprit in several losses for the Chargers this season.
Houston should be eager to atone for the loss on MNF and they need this or it might really become a mish-mosh in the AFC South after this week. Still, San Diego has been enjoying a bye, while Houston now has to come off the short week after a demanding Monday Night game on foreign soil. The Chargers should have a lot of pep on both sides of the ball, though Houston has shown a better level of play in their own digs. I see some fresher San Diego legs resonating this week, as the Chargers get the cover.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the San Diego Chargers plus one point.
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