San Diego Chargers (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. St. Louis Rams (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS), 1:00 pm EST, NFL Week 6, Sunday, October 17, 2010. Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
By Scotty L of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: SD Chargers -9/STL Rams +9
Over/Under Total: 45
The San Diego Chargers travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams on Sunday. Both of these squads are coming off tough weeks and are looking to re-establish some positive momentum. The Chargers had another gut-wrenching loss to the Raiders on Sunday, while the Rams had their clock cleaned by the previously winless Lions.
First of all, you have got to be kidding me with these special teams of the Chargers. Now responsible for all 3 of their losses, this part of their game has become an absolute nightmare. Against the Raiders, they had two punts blocked deep in their own territory in the game’s first five minutes; leading to a quick 12-0 Raiders lead. If you had San Diego -7, you were already in a 19-point hole. They started moving the ball, only to cough it up twice on red-zone fumbles. Still, the Chargers still managed to forge ahead 24-15 in the 3rd quarter, completely reversing momentum in their favor and looking like they’re going to cover. Then, as is their wont, everyone falls asleep at the wheel and the Raiders go on to win 35-27.
The Rams have their own issues. Losing 44-6 to the Lions is a bad sign. It throws a new light on the team. Yeah, they’re scrappy, but on any given week, they are capable of playing like one of the worst teams in the NFL. At 2-3, it’s too early for panic, but things might get worse before they get better. Rookie number-one pick Sam Bradford has shown flashes, but was rattled heavily in the Lions game and may be entering a patch where the growing pains are severe. The defense held up reasonably well in their first 4 games, but completely fell apart against Detroit. But in a formless season like the one we’re having so far, St. Louis has been among the more peculiar teams. It looked like it was going to be tough going after losing their first two games to Arizona and Oakland, but they rebounded with a 2-touchdown win over the Redskins and a 17-point romping of Seattle. Then, Detroit bombs them out. Go figure.
Considering how the Rams have been playing in their last two games at home, the Chargers might have a tough game on their hands. Put simply, the Chargers have been hopeless on the road, where their special teams problems seem amplified. They would have fixed the problem now if it were that easy. Meanwhile, a heavily hyped team that is usually laying points is doing stuff you won’t see from your local high school’s JV team. It’s so bad that the Chargers could play perfect special teams from this point and would still be ranked last until about week 14. Combine that with ill-timed screw-ups in the red-zone and in the 4th quarter and it soon becomes irrelevant how many yards Philip Rivers throws for.
It is interesting to reflect that the Chargers have started the season 2-3 in the past 3 seasons and in 4 of their last 5. Considering the great regular seasons San Diego has enjoyed in that very period, perhaps it is too early to worry. At the same time, these problems just seem more insidious than ones experienced in previous years. The running game has a certain hopelessness to it, as it alternates between mediocre and disastrous. In addition, the defense seems to lack the ability to make a clutch play to save its life. But despite all the disasters, the Chargers were still in all 3 games they lost with a chance to win at the end. At some point, the special teams fiasco and heartbreaking turnovers will have to stop, right? When it does, this can still be a very good team.
Scotty L’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is one of the more difficult games to pick, featuring two teams that have showed a wide range of form. If the road Chargers team we have seen three times this year shows up and the Rams can play like they did against the Redskins and Seahawks, this could be an upset special. Simply put, the Chargers have absolutely stunk on the road and have no business laying points to anybody at this point, especially 9! There’s better Week 6 games to bet on, but if you must get down on this one, take the Rams to cover.