Detroit Lions (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date and Time: Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 4:04PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +2.5/SD -2.5
Over/Under Total: 46
The Detroit Lions make the trip far out west to face the San Diego Chargers on the opening Sunday of the 2015 NFL season. While neither team is being talked about when the topic of possible conference champions is discussed, each team has plans for a very productive season. San Diego looks improved after a 9-7 mark in 2014, while the Lions quietly won 11 games last season, before getting bounced in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
Its not an easy road assignment for the Lions. Theyre playing across conferences in a faraway location in which they are unaccustomed. Its still going to be hot in San Diego and its not like that Michigan summer heat. On top of that, the Lions are facing a team in the Chargers who may be a handful this season. Some are even projecting that San Diego usurps Denver atop of the AFC West this season. Well see.
Philip Rivers is happy behind center for the Bolts, the recipient of a deal that got worked out in training camp. Since coach Mike McCoy arrived two seasons ago, Rivers has seen a late-career surge, playing better than ever. His toolbox is cavernous, with a vast array of differently-skilled talents that give this Chargers offense a tremendous boost. A lot of the projected offensive improvement rests on the shoulders of rookie back Melvin Gordon. But Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead could provide meaningful relief in the event that Gordon falls flat or needs some time to find his NFL bearings.
The aerial attack is loaded for San Diego. WR Keenan Allen doesnt get a ton of pub, but when he starts clicking with Rivers, hes an almost unstoppable force. Malcom Floyd is still capable of the miraculous. The loss of Eddie Royal is tough, but Stevie Johnson is brought in and should see a lot of open field as their number-three receiver. Antonio Gates being out for the first 4 games hurts, but Ladarius Green is a massive talent just waiting for more touches to illustrate his worth. But the Chargers have enjoyed a packed roster of skill guys before. Giving this offense more biet will be an improved line, with guys back healthy, an incoming Joe Barksdale, and a continually-improving DJ Fluker. Center Chris Watt, LT King Dunlap, and G Orlando Franklin are also very solid.
The San Diego defense figures to be better with just a couple breaks falling their way. The line is robust with Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes, Ryan Carrethers, and an incoming Mitch Unrein. If only LB Melvin Ingram can get in a full season without incident, it gives this D far-more overall menace and pass-rush venom. Donald Butler and Manti Teo could be a little better. CB Brandon Flowers and S Eric Weddle are solid foundations in the secondary. 2015 needs to be the year that Jason Verrett steps up and justifies his high draft position. In addition to the D, the Chargers can rely on sound special teams, with P Mike Scifres and K Nick Novak being very dependable. And they even added a legit return man with the signing of Jacoby Jones.
Detroit still flaunts a scary offense that may have even gotten better. Matthew Stafford is a good quarterbackdont let anyone tell you different. Calvin Johnson healthy with Golden Tate gives them perhaps the best 1-2 receiver punch in the NFL. Eric Ebron is a young and blossoming tight end who should be better in his second season. Ammer Abdullah is an exciting rookie back that could really give Detroit a different dimension in its running game that its been missing for a long time. And Joique Bell is still in the fold. The Detroit offensive line got better. Already with three nice pieces in place with G Larry Warford, Travis Swanson, and Riley Reiff, they added ex-Bronco Manny Ramirez and first-round draft pick T Laken Tomlinson.
The Lions saw a growth in the D last season, as it played better than it had in years. They only gave up more than 24 points once until their final two games. This will be the big question entering 2015. The loss of Ndamukong Suh looms large, but the line was bolstered with the addition of Haloti Ngata (questionable) from Baltimore and Tyrunn Walker from New Orleans. Stephen Tulloch is back healthy and a steady presence in the middle. The secondary is patrolled by James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin, Darius Slay, and Rashean Mathisa solid group. If they remain as effective with the run-stop taking a possible step back remains to be seen.
With the Chargers, it seems like very season opens with hope, especially in the past decade when theyve usually had a lot of talent on their teams. You can make a case for why they should be great. And they never are. For longtime observers of this team, its apparent that they are struck with some type of stubborn and unshakeable organizational mediocrity. Things never work out the way even someone who is vaguely-optimistic would imagine. Then again, Detroit hasnt exactly made it a habit of making deep playoff runs lately, either. At least San Diego has been to a Super Bowl.
In 2015, these teams look to be dark horse contenders. Both offenses are loaded, but relying on rookie running backs to take them up another notch. Each team made improvements on paper to their offensive lines, but well have to wait to see how that manifests. Detroit may be more cemented defensively and stronger on the line and in the secondary. But San Diego, with some youngsters improving and brittle, yet formidable, players like Ingram remaining healthy, could substantially improve on that side of the ball.
I see a home San Diego offense more-prepared to hit the ground running. Its a big season-opener with the teams future in San Diego in limbo. Rivers just got the new deal. On the field, look for Rivers to spray the ball around to a multitude of different weapons, with Gordon perhaps peeling off a few big runs on a less-stout Detroit front. The Lions will have their moments and could make it close with a few big plays, but San Diegos offense will be a bit more lively on week 1, with their defense playing well enough for the Chargers to emerge with a win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 2.5 points.
Additional NFL Football Betting Previews