Buffalo Bills (5-7 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-7 SU, 3-9 ATS), 4:15 p.m. EST, NFL Week 14, Sunday, December 11, 2011, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California, TV: CBS
by Scotty L, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buf +6.5/SD -6.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Buffalo Bills head far West to take on the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Each team is 5-7, but theres quite a story behind those records. Both squads opened the season at a promising 4-1. But since October 9, wins against the Redskins (Buffalo) and a MNF win against Jacksonville (San Diego) is the sum total of these teams accomplishments. Its been a rough patch to say the least.
At least San Diego was able to get off the schneid on Monday, with a 38-14 win at Jacksonville to bring an end to a ruinous 6-game losing streak. At 5-7 and with nobody in the AFC West running away with it, the Chargers are technically still in it–two games behind Denver and Oakland. Their playoff hopes might not be practical, but at least they have something to shoot for. The win at Jacksonville should at least help their spirits.
Buffalo, meanwhile, is in the midst of a 5-game losing streak that has seen them lose all their mojo. Against Tennessee on Sunday, the same things that have hurt this team this season reared their heads again. Key turnovers, penalties, and inopportune moments of non-execution took an imminently-winnable game and rendered it into another loss.
Now the Bills have to pack up and make one of the longest trips in the NFL. The Chargers have injury issues of their own, but the Bills now find themselves dealing with the same problem, This will be their 3rd week without their star RB Fred Jackson, who was really having a good season before going down with a fractured fibula. Now CB Aaron Williams, K Rian Lindell, and TE Scott Chandler (tied for the team lead with 6 touchdown catches) are listed as questionable for Sunday.
For however beat up the Bills might be, their injury issues pale in comparison to what the Chargers have dealt with this season. They have been forced to assemble a ragtag bunch in certain areas, particularly at offensive line and linebacker, where guys seem to be winging it an awful lot. They were lucky to be facing the worst offensive team in the league on Monday, otherwise these liabilities could have been more telling.
But there were some things to like from the Chargers on Monday. RB Ryan Mathews had his second straight 100-yard game on the ground. With him and Tolbert running well, the play-action opens up, allowing Rivers to do his thing. The return of WR Malcom Floyd helped and Rivers was able to connect on long passing strikes to Vincent Brown, Floyd, and star receiver Vincent Jackson. The Chargers started fast on Monday, but when Jacksonville scored touchdowns on consecutive drives to go ahead 14-10, you could hear a collective here we go again from San Diego fans. 28 unanswered points, however, sealed the deal.
With the win, San Diego moved to 18-2 under coach Norv Turner in December and January. While this team is not the power of previous years, there is reason to believe the Chargers will close strongly. The running game is improving and some of the replacement players are getting their legs under them. Regardless, the Chargers have been horrible at the betting windows, with the Jacksonville game being their first cover in nearly two months.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Against teams like Jacksonville and Buffalo, the Chargers are able to camouflage their liabilities more than they did against teams that have positive momentum. Injuries, combined with an unending slew of untimely penalties and turnovers, have put a black cloud over this Chargers season, but against teams prone to having the same problems, the Chargers are able to showcase some of the things that had people so excited about them in the pre-season.
In their past two losses, the Bills have kept the game close. They kept the Jets within 4 two weeks ago on the road, so they havent exactly given up yet. But look for the Chargers to have a good game, using the inertia from Monday night to build some positivity as they close a disappointing season. Take the San Diego Chargers minus 6.5 points.
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