San Diego Chargers (11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (7-7 SU,
6-8 ATS), NFL Week 16, 7:30 p.m. EST, Christmas Day Game, December 25, 2009, LP Field,
Nashville, Tenn., TV: NFL Network
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Chargers +3/Titans -3
Two of the hottest teams in the AFC and in all of the NFL will square off in a special Christmas night showdown on the leagues own NFL Network Friday, when the Tennessee Titans host the San Diego Chargers at LP Field in Nashville.
The Titans continued their improbable turnaround to their season last
Sunday with a 27-24 overtime victory over the feisty Miami Dolphins.
The Titans blew an 18-point lead in the second half and needed kicker
Rob Bironas to bail them out with a 46-yard field goal to end the
game in OT.
Nevertheless, the Titans have now won seven of their last eight games after starting the season 0-6, and are back to .500 and right in the
thick of the AFC playoff chase.
San Diego and quarterback Philip Rivers continued their perfect
record in December with a 27-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals
on a last-second 52-yard field goal by kicker Nate Kaeding. With the
win the Chargers moved their winning streak to nine games and also
clinched the AFC West title and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs
as the No. 2 seed.
Because of the fact that the Chargers have already clinched and have nothing left to play for really, oddsmakers have made the Titans 3-
point favorites to the surprise of just about everyone who has
watched the Chargers play the last two months. There has been little
to no line movement in the point spread either (5Dimes is the
only sportsbook with 2.5 on their board), as most sharp bettors must
be waiting until later in the week to see what the Chargers say about
how theyll approach the game.
The over/under total opened at 47 and has also seen little to no movement after early wagering, although there are a few 46.5s on the
board at a few offshore sportsbooks and at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.
Most of the focus on offense for this game will be on the two young
quarterbacks, Rivers and the Titans Vince Young. Rivers has elevated
his game this season and has basically carried the Chargers on his
back all year, while Young finally got a second chance after Kerry
Collins was ineffective to start the year and the Titans havent
looked back since.
The big difference is that Young has had plenty of help in the form of the NFLs leading rusher, second-year back Chris Johnson. Johnson
had an off game last week against the Dolphins, gaining only 104
yards, to notch his ninth game in a row with over 100 yards on the
ground. He still needs 270 yards in the final two games of the season
to reach 2,000, which is attainable if he can keep going at his
current pace (162.6 ypg 2nd in NFL).
Johnson shouldnt have too much trouble getting over 100 yards again this week, since the Chargers run defense is ranked 21st in the league allowing 116.9 yards per game.
However, the same situation exists on the other sideline too. Rivers
and the Chargers are the leagues 5th-ranked passing attack at 268.9
yards a game, which also sets up a huge mismatch on paper since the
Titans pass defense is ranked 31st in a 32-team league allowing 264.5
yards a contest. That is if Chargers coach Norv Turner decides to
keep Rivers and his six-guns shooting in this game.
Plus, the Chargers might be able to get their weak running game (86.2
ypg 30th) going this week, since the Titans lost linebackers Keith
Bulluck and David Thornton to season-ending injuries last week
against Miami and theyll likely be replaced by rookie Gerald McRath
and second-year man Colin Allred.
The last time these two teams met on the field was in a first round AFC wildcard game in 2008, a game the Chargers won 17-6 by scoring 17 straight second-half points to steal the win. The Chargers also
covered the point spread in that game, just barely, as 10.5-point
In fact, San Diego has owned this rivalry, winning the last seven
straight games (dating back to 1993) and covering the number in six
of those seven games (6-0 ATS in last six).
There arent too many other betting trends in this game that are very noteworthy. The Chargers are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games, while the Titans are just 1-8 ATS against teams with winning records.
Badgers Pick: Like most of the betting world, Im stunned to see the Titans as 3-point favorites against Rivers and the Chargers.
Something smells fishy, and Im going to wait until the very last
second to pick a side in this one, if I pick one at all. The best bet
in this game could be the over, as both teams have major defensive
weaknesses against the other teams strength. Ill be putting a small
chunk of my Christmas money on the over of 47.