New York Jets (1-3 SU, 0-3-1 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (3-1 SU, 4-0 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 4:25pm EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Chargers
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ +7.5/SD -7.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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On Sunday, the New York Jets make the trip to Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Chargers. The Jets are 1-3, having dropped 3 games in a row. The Chargers, meanwhile, have won 3 games in a row to go to 3-1 on the season. Early in the year, San Diego has become a team worth watching and they look to keep the good momentum going with a win over the struggling Jets.
The Chargers blew a two-touchdown lead in the 4th quarter against Arizona in week one. Since then, its hard to find much to criticize, with a big home win against Seattle, a road win at Buffalo, and a 33-14 win over Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jets looked good in week one, with a home win over the Raiders, but subsequent losses to Bears, Packers, and Lions have brought the hope for a Jets resurgence to a halt.
Philip Rivers has looked great in the last 3 games, expertly using a wide range of tools to get the job done. The Chargers have taken some bad injuries, losing their top two running backs, but the aerial attack has taken flight. Donald Brown and Branden Oliver make up a pedestrian run-game, but Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and Ladarius Green are a very productive group, with different guys stepping up at any given time. Watching second-year WR Keenan Allen go bonkers on Jacksonville was a nice sign, as the second-year star caught 10 passes after a slow start in the first 3 games.
One main area of concern for San Diego is the injuries. The defense has lost LB Melvin Ingram, LB Manti Teo, and CB Shareece Wright. Jeremiah Attaochu is questionable, as is rookie first-round corner Jason Verrett. Very troubling is the center position. Veteran starter Nick Hardwick was lost for the season, with Rich Ohrnberger filling in quite well. But a back injury to Ohrnberger had the Chargers digging deep into the barrel with Doug Legursky on Sunday. Watching several drives stall due to the issues between center and QB, the Chargers will be trying to expedite the return of Ohrnberger. In spite of it all, the Chargers overcame a tough early Jacksonville challenge to win the game comfortably and cover the spread.
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The Jets have been equally disappointing in a football and wagering sense. On Sunday, they performed badly in losing to the Detroit Lions in East Rutherford, 24-17. It wasnt even really that close. Defensively, they were merely OK. And Geno Smith continues to struggle under center. There are even murmurings from a growing group that Michael Vick deserves a shot. In any case, theres no questioning that Smith is a bottom-rung force as far as NFL starting quarterbacks are concerned. He has two settings–efficient/marginally-capable or downright awful.
The Jets are indisputably tough against the run, but thats not what the Chargers are relying on at the moment. And having S Calvin Pryor being questionable for this game doesnt help, either. But maybe the one-dimensional nature of the San Diego offense, with New Yorks decent running game, can help the Jets try to manufacture a win.
Thats what the Jets will try to do. Get their defense to step up. Put together a couple scoring drives. Grind away with running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. Get a big play or two on defense or special teams. The Jets try to weasel their way to wins. And thats how it has to be with an offense almost devoid of playmakers and a defense that while good, is not special enough to mask the utter ineptitude on offense.
While the Chargers are heavily reliant on the pass with their run-game in shambles, its an aerial attack with a lot of variety. This group can do it all. So while it may sound easy when playing a team you know will be throwing the ball, it comes in so many different forms. Rivers can make any throw and whatever route is needed, someone in his deep toolbox can execute it. Its a sure-handed group where you can expect a couple circus catches in every game. New offensive coordinator Frank Reich is already showing his worth and this is a group that could get a lot of business done this season.
There seems to be something different about the Chargers this season. Theyre getting out of their own way for a change. Drives arent dying an uninspired death in the red-zone time and again. Youre not seeing a slew of untimely penalties. They arent giving up the big play at the most-agonizing moment. And when they have success, they dont melt down, as if theyre waiting for the roof to collapse. Theres a more positive attitude on a palpable level. There has always been talent on this team, but the headspace wasnt right. Its refreshing to see a Chargers team that goes for the gusto a little bit and isnt a constant disappointment waiting to happen.
Be that as it may, San Diego hasnt always thrived in the role of favorite. In addition, three good games does not make a bonafide winner. Once people start expecting things out of the Chargers, thats about when they start to stink it up. And San Diego is lucky they sputtered out to a slow start against Jacksonville. A similar early performance against the Jets would make for more of an uphill battle.
Let us not get lost in too much minutia. For all we know, San Diego could end up being one of the better teams in the league this season. And the Jets may be one of the worst. The Chargers are playing great, with the Jets firmly ensconced in mediocrity. Philip Rivers is playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL, while Geno Smith is becoming a candidate for getting the hook. San Diego has a slew of difference-makers on offense, while the Jets are struggling for foothold. For Jets backers, the thought is noble enough and it just may work–that the Jets will drape a wet blanket over the Chargers, while resourcefully maneuvering their way to a cover. Im not buying it.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting the San Diego Chargers minus 7.5 points.