Los Angeles Chargers (4-6 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-5 SU, 5-5 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 4:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC pk/DAL pk
Over/Under Total: 48
On Thanksgiving Day from AT&T Stadium, the Los Angeles Chargers come to visit the Dallas Cowboys in a week 12 matchup. Dallas lost their second game in a row on Sunday in a 37-9 hammering at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. After leading the game going into the third quarter, they faded badly and now have to pick up the pieces with an ever-narrowing margin for error. The Chargers are 4-6, coming off a 54-24 win over the Bills at home. They finally got the offense to start clicking and with a defense that has started to come into its own, the Chargers now are in the hunt, even at just 4-6, with other AFC West teams starting to stockpile losses in bunches.
It looked like the Cowboys were starting to right the ship, but two lopsided losses have them in a state of emergency heading into week 12. They might be able to fill-in for Ezekiel Elliott with some good spot play from their other backs, but its hard to look at Elliotts absence as anything but a major issue for an offense that has stunk it up the last two weeks with him out of action. It didnt help on Sunday that QB Dak Prescott threw three picks and fumbled the ball away, which was returned for a TD. He can’t be 100% to blame though, as his top tackle was out and he was rushed most of the game. Granted, the Eagles are 9-1 for a reason. By the same token, to take a 9-7 lead into the second half and end up losing 37-9 is a bad development for a team that can no longer afford bad news. Against Atlanta and the Eagles in consecutive weeks, the Cowboys look anything but a team that is destined for anything particularly good.
Against the Eagles, the mistakes were too numerous for the Cowboys to overcome. Prescott was pedestrian with just 145 passing and all the turnovers. With Elliott out, more from the Dallas aerial attack was expected and in the last few weeks, it just hasnt taken hold. There are these little dinky passes and not much is really cooking on this side of the ball. Alfred Morris sprung loose with a 91-yard game and that kind of production will come in handy, but teams dont lose their best player on offense and have it not be a big deal. This side of the ball needs to find answers and soon.
Against the best offense in the league on Sunday night, the Cowboys held their own well for exactly one half of football, keeping the Eagles held to one first-half score. Then the wheels came off. And the defense wasnt able to register a positive development, with no turnovers and no pass-rush to speak of. What makes the defenses performance so upsetting is that they seemed to be in a state of improvement during their little three-game push. Against Atlanta and Philly, however, they have been just out there taking up space. Similar results against a Chargers offense that appeared to kick it into gear last week would be a major issue.
The Chargers really got after it on Sunday at home, posting a huge performance on offense and defense against the visiting Bills. The Chargers have been all over the place this season, but one steady variable appeared to be an offense unable to keep pace with a Chargers defense that has started to really flourish into a quality group. On Sunday, we saw what can happen when both sides of the ball play in tandem. Their record could easily be 6-4 or even better, with late-game twists working against them all season. But as Kansas City comes back to the pack and Oakland and Denver keep losing, the Chargers can climb back into the race with continued success.
On Sunday, Philip Rivers was effective with two TD passes and no turnovers. Melvin Gordon was good on the ground with 80 yards rushing and a TD, with interesting rookie back Austin Ekeler adding some nice runs, as well. Keenan Allen is starting to re-cement himself as the Chargers top receiver and on Sunday, he was big with 12 receptions and 159 yards with two TD grabs from Rivers. Rookie Mike Williams is starting to make his presence felt and with aerial weapons like Tyrell Williams, tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, Travis Benjamin, and others, they have a lot of weapons on this side of the ball. Rivers having a better game is a good sign moving forward.
An increasingly-stout and playmaking Chargers defense is starting to get more notice. A vastly-improved secondary really made its mark on Sunday, running off new Buffalo starter Nathan Peterman, who threw five picks in the first half. CB Casey Hayward had two picks, with CB Trevor Williams and S Tre Boston also getting interceptions on the day. The middle is looking good, especially since getting Denzel Perryman back. LB Korey Toomer took a pick and ran it back for a score on Sunday. Add to the mix the pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, we see a D that has started to find the right formula. Poor offensive play has wasted some great performances on this side of the ball and with better play on offense, people will start to see more-clearly the level of menace being generated on this side of the ball.
Even for those fancying the Chargers this week, there are concerns. They are certainly capable of either putting a dud out there or blowing it late, as they have done several times already this season. And something about the Chargers on Thanksgiving doesnt look right at first glance. Dallas is facing a dire situation and some urgency should resonate. Its just that the Cowboys may have hit a wall without Elliott and both sides of the ball not performing well as of late. Im taking the Bolts.
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