Arizona Cardinals (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS), 4:15 p.m. EST, NFL Week 4, Sunday, October 3, 2010, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Scotty L of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Az +8/SD -8
Over/Under Total: 46
The 2-1 Arizona Cardinals make the short trip Northwest to face the 1-2 SD Chargers on Sunday afternoon. All NFL games are more or less pivotal, but this is truly a crossroads game for both teams. For the Chargers, a 1-3 start would put them right behind the 8-ball. A win here gets them to 2-2 and rights the ship. The Cardinals are 2-1, but this is a chance for them to prove they can compete with good teams. They were blown out in their only other test at the Atlanta Falcons.
The Chargers lack pep-that’s evident right from the beginning. The whole team was oozing with a general lack of urgency in their two losses. In addition, catastrophic special teams play has really taken its toll. One can almost envision stellar special teams star Kassim Osgood laughing in Jacksonville, as the Chargers really seem to miss him. The whole operation is in tatters and cost them big against Kansas City and Seattle. On one hand, you can reason that the Chargers would have won all 3 of their games if the special teams were even average. At the same time, if it were so easy to remedy, why weren’t the gaps plugged up sufficiently after the disastrous performance in KC? It’s apparently not an easy fix because in those 2 games, it has been a dagger in the heart. My heart goes out to those who bet on the Chargers in those weeks.
Any analysis is rendered moot when a team starts running wild on returns. It’s just another wacky tidbit that makes the Chargers one of the more schizophrenic teams for bettors to find a groove. They tantalize, but always fail to live up to expectations. In a lot of games, they start getting their act together, only to eternally come up just short. The concerns seem real and perhaps their early play is not an aberration. Their perception as a good team stands in direct contrast to what has been seen on the field.
The O-line is not looking good and now Louis Vasquez is injured-questionable for Sunday. O’Neill won’t be in uniform. The dilapidated state of the O-line really seems to have hurt the rushing game. An inconsistent group of pass catchers seem to really miss Vincent Jackson, as secondaries are having a much easier time keying in on the Chargers passing game. Rivers is still putting up numbers, but the seamless attack of the past few years seems compromised. In addition, the pass rush is lukewarm, Merriman is a non-factor, and no one is really stepping up to make a difference on defense.
Hats off to the Cardinals for taking what looks like a gutted team and forging to a 2-1 record. Surprise starting QB Derek Anderson has been adequate. Hightower is averaging 6 yards per run and when he gets clicking, figures to have some big performances. Watching Justin Forsett run against the Chargers “D” last week, it’s not difficult to imagine him having a productive game. Receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston have been solid, but obviously miss the mid-stride laser strikes Kurt Warner used to throw.
While scraping by the Rams in St. Louis and the Raiders at home was in some ways promising, the limitations that didn’t manifest against that pair of cellar-dwelling teams certainly did against Atlanta in a 41-7 gutting. It figures to be tough on them this week as well. They are not a bad team and there will be weeks where they get a spark and surprise some people, but the key personnel losses have diminished a once-formidable team. Coach Whisenhunt will keep the struggling machine chugging ahead the best he can, but the wheels will begin to come off at some point.
Scotty L’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Both teams have more or less underperformed compared to expectations. Eight points is two scores and I expect the Cards to keep it within that window for the cover.
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