San Diego Chargers vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Pick – Point Spread

San Diego Chargers (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-4 SU, 6-6
ATS), Week 14 NFL, 4:15 p.m. EST, Sunday, December 13, 2009, Cowboys Stadium,
Arlington, Texas TV: CBS

by Badger of

Point Spread: Chargers +3/Cowboys -3
Over/Under: 48.5

Make sure you save enough refreshments and get the catnap in early
too, because the afternoon game of the NFL doubleheader this Sunday
on CBS is a potential shootout between the red-hot San Diego Chargers
and the Dallas Cowboys in Cowboys Stadium.

The Chargers, winners of seven straight games including a 30-23 victory over Cleveland last weekend, have suddenly become the team in the AFC everyone thinks can knock of the undefeated Colts. Quarterback Philip Rivers added 373 yards and two more scores to his
MVP-type numbers on the season in the victory over the Browns, as the
Chargers continue their quest toward another AFC West title.

Dallas had their two-game win streak snapped and also suffered the
embarrassment of getting swept in their season series against NFC
East rival New York Giants last week, 31-24. Tony Romo nearly threw
for 400 yards against the Giants, but it still mattered little as the
defense and special teams didnt hold up their end in the loss.

Sundays game should be entertaining because the Cowboys cannot
afford to lose a big game like this at home. Theyve already allowed
the Eagles and Giants creep back into the NFC East Division race and
another loss, even to the red-hot Chargers, will spark the questions
about Romo and the Cowboys fading down the stretch once again.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Dallas as standard 3-point favorites
at home and the line has yet to move much, although there are a few
Cowboys minus -2.5-points at a few of the offshore sportsbook.

The over/under total has seen similar line movement up from where it
opened at 47.5, moving up a point to 48.5 at a majority of the books
in Las Vegas and on the Internet.

So far this season both Romo (3,325 yards, 20 TD) and Rivers (3,311 yards, 21 TD) have done nothing but throw the ball all over the
gridiron, so the fact these two are matched up against each other
makes the offensive potential of this game so exciting.

The Chargers are 6th in the league in passing (266.8 ypg), while the
Cowboys are 7th (264.5 ypg). And all of that passing has led to quick
strikes and big points as both teams, with the Chargers (28.5 ppg)
3rd in the NFL and the Cowboys 11th (23.2 ppg).

But both teams are also fighting offensive line issues, as the
Chargers are already down right tackle Jeromey Clary and could be
without center Nick Hardwick this week (doubtful). Meanwhile, the
Cowboys have dealt with the Flozell Adams cheap shot all week and are
also missing right tackle Marc Colombo.

Normally both defenses are fully capable of taking advantage of this
weakness at tackle and could turn this potential shootout into a sack-
a-thon, but the Chargers are battling the injury bug on defense big
time. Safety Eric Weddle is out and both Luis Castillo and Shawne
Merriman are nursing injuries (listed as questionable), so the Bolts
may only be playing at half-capacity on Sunday.

The Cowboys defense has been average all year (14th 328.4 ypg), but
they do a great job of holding teams to field goals in the red zone
and have one of the best scoring defenses in the league (17.8 ppg
5th). However, the Cowboys are also banged up (safeties Ken Hamlin
and Michael Hamlin both questionable) in what was already a sketchy
secondary, so Rivers could slice-n-dice his way to another big

The Cowboys won this same matchup the last time these two teams met back in 2005 by a 28-24 score, but Drew Bledsoe and Drew Brees are
long gone from these teams so it really apples and oranges.

For the record the Cowboys own a 4-1 SU record against the Chargers
(dating back to 1986), as well as a 3-2 ATS record in the five-game
series. For what its worth, the Chargers beat the Cowboys in the
preseason 31-17 in Qualcomm.

With a small sample of betting trends to par rouse its hard to find
much for this game. Youre going to have to go with gut-trends like
the Chargers do seem to play well down the stretch (8-2 ATS in
December, 4-1 ATS in last five overall), and the Cowboys have been
tough to beat in their new home (4-1 ATS in last five games at
Cowboys Stadium).

Badgers Pick: I like the way the Chargers are playing right now, and I still think this game turns into a 38-35 shootout with Rivers
and Romo both chucking it over 50 times. If that does become the
case, Ill take Rivers and the points. Take San Diego plus the 3-points.