San Diego Chargers (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (1-6 SU, 1-5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +3/BAL -3
Over/Under Total: 50
The San Diego Chargers come out to Maryland on Sunday to face the Baltimore Ravens in week 8 NFL action. Not many would have predicted that these two teams would enter this game with a combined mark of 3-11, but such is the case in a transitional 2015 season. Both teams came up short last week. The Ravens dropped a 26-18 result to the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. The Chargers, meanwhile, sunk to 2-5, losing 37-29 to division rival Oakland at home on Sunday.
On the surface, the 37-29 loss to the Raiders looks like a forgivable loss for the Chargers, but it really wasnt. Oakland has made strides this season, so its not that theyre a bad team. Still, in a must-win game, San Diego laid an egg, carrying a 37-6 deficit into the 4th quarter. Naturally, they came to life, but only when the matter of the game was already decided. For the Chargers to fall behind by 31 to Oakland in a must-win game at home made some loyal SD fans think maybe it would be best if they just go ahead and move to LA. If there is anything more annoying than being a Chargers fan over the years, Id like to know what it is.
As always, there is a good case for why the Chargers should win this game. The problem is that the Chargers seem numb to urgent situations. Theyve come back from bad starts to forge unlikely playoff runs before and they really need to start now or its going to be an early wrap for a team many picked to win the division. At the end of the day, they still have Philip Rivers, with a slew of weapons at his disposal. Rivers has 400 more yards than the second-ranked passer in the league. WR Keenan Allen leads the league with 62 catches. Add in Danny Woodhead, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, and others, you can see why its so disappointing to watch this team struggle week after week.
A lot of that can be blamed on an offensive line that couldnt stop a nosebleed. Game after game, Rivers and company labor behind an O-line that is plagued by underachievement and injuries. Its the main reason San Diego cant forge a meaningful run game, with rookie Melvin Gordon struggling behind a line that cant open a hole. With players returning from injuries, look for that part of their game to get better. If anything, Rivers has been impressive, but the fact that hes so far and away the NFL passing leader is a testament to San Diegos one-dimensional offense. But still, its the leagues most-prolific aerial attack, which makes them a dangerous opponent.
Defensively, the Chargers face a multitude of issues. Injuries have also had their affect on this group. The run-defense is borderline comical at this point, with opposing backs having a field day against San Diego. They give up an average of over 28 points per game. Theyve registered just 12 sacks in 7 games, while getting just 7 turnovers. If anything, theyve been consistent, with each SD opponent scoring between 24 and 37 points this season.
Now on to Baltimore, where the picture isnt much rosier. At 1-6, their season has been reduced to just playing for pride at this point. Its a hard fall for a perennial conference power. Theyre healthy and a lot of good pieces are in place, making it all the more curious as to why theyve fallen so far. Key players are simply not at their best this season. They cant catch a breakas things always go south when they need a positive development.
Joe Flacco is still capable of having a big game and showing some of his trademark clutch play, but hes been off this season, with a 9/8 TD-INT ratio. RB Justin Forsett has been erratic, though against this run-defense this week, he should be able to produce. Steve Smith, Sr. is the crown jewel of this aerial attack, with the emerging duo of WR Kamar Aiken and TE Crockett Gilmore also chipping in with production. But its still an offense that lacks star power and an explosive element. That was fine when the defense was on top of its game, but thats no longer the case.
A lot of personnel losses over the years in the form of retirement, free agent departures, and injuries has really disrupted the formula of success for this Ravens defense. Opponents are finding it all too easy to exploit this Ravens D through the air. And with the high-flying Chargers offense rolling into town, theyre going to need to be a lot better. In fact, its almost certain that Rivers is going to get his. The question is whether or not the D can stop a complete free-for-all from ensuing.
The Ravens were pretty flat against the Cardinals, with 10 points through three quarters at home in a game they really needed to win. Youd think a team that won the Super Bowl a few years ago could will themselves to greater heights with their season getting so sideways, but when the Ravens dig deep, it just hasnt been there. They lack the horses on offense to compete, especially with a defense that is porous and unable to play clutch ball with the game on the line. On one hand its promising that the Ravens were within one score of winning in all 6 of their losses, but it also suggests a disturbing pattern that when the game is on the line, they dont respond.
You have two dysfunctional teams here that have fallen on hard times. Neither team seems able to respond to the criticalness of the situations they both face. But as they get healthier, the Chargers appear to have a little more fire and its hard to envision Baltimore having answers for the SD aerial game, even if San Diego undermines themselves a lot. It can be hit and miss for the Chargers, but Ill take the points on Sunday and go with SD.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 3 points.
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