St. Louis Rams (4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date and Time: Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +5.5/SD -5.5
Over/Under Total: 43
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On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Rams come into Mission Valley to take on the San Diego Chargers. Both teams scored a win on Sunday, with the Chargers breaking a 3-game losing streak coming off the bye week with a 13-6 win over the Raiders to go to 6-4. The Rams scored the most surprising result of the week, a 22-7 win over the Denver Broncos. With 3 wins in their last 5 games, the Rams are now 4-6 and quite possibly the most dangerous sub-.500 team in the league.
The Rams have been tough in certain spots. Theyve had their share of duds, but with wins over Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver, they have scored a nice handful of meaningful triumphs. Coach Jeff Fisher made the somewhat-controversial move to start QB Shaun Hill on Sunday and it paid off, with Hill an efficient 20-29 with 220 yards, a TD throw, and no picks or fumbles. Rookie back Tre Mason ran for 113 yards, while WR Kenny Britt broke out with a 4 catch/128-yard performance. And obviously, holding Denver to a lone touchdown over 4 quarters could prove to be a confidence-building game for a defense that has shown signs of coming around.
The Chargers couldnt be too picky after a 3-game slide, so theyll happily take a 13-6 win over the Raiders on Saturday. It was the second close game between San Diego and the winless Raiders this season. Defensively, we saw the Chargers getting back to their early-season form. They held Oakland to 233 total yards and a only pair of field goals. Against a plucky St. Louis offense, look for them to be increasingly tested this Sunday.
San Diego really needed the bye week to help rest some injured and weary bodies. Sundays game wasnt exactly the Chargers relaunch some had in mind. Against an Oakland D that had allowed 74 combined points in their last 2 games, the 13-point output was discouraging. The Chargers continue having trouble running the ball. Ryan Mathews returned after missing a stretch of games and picked up an encouraging 70 yards in his first game back. But QB Philip Rivers has ebbed off a bit after a fast start. He isnt making the same connections on a consistent basis with his deep pass-catching crew. Rivers is averaging under 200 yards passing per game in his last 4 games after a sizzling start to the season.
The Rams are a strange 4-6 team, with three of their wins coming against good teams. This season, they have lost by 3 to the Cowboys, lost by 6 at Philadelphia, and the week before beating Denver, they took a lead into the 4th quarter against the now 9-1 Cardinals. So, you take the wins they have with some close calls and you see a team that isnt really that far off, despite having to shuffle a pair of backups in at the QB position and a slew of other injuries on both sides of the ball. Its fair to say they have over-achieved this season. But there have been some weeks where they looked really bad–a 28-point loss to the Vikings, a home collapse against the 49ers, and a 34-7 beating against the Chiefs.
Mason is getting the workload at running back and will try to get some business done against a Chargers run-defense that is just average. Hill will look to take advantage of a Chargers secondary that can either be quite serviceable or downright awful. The Chargers have lost rookie first-rounder CB Jason Verrett for the season, but could be getting Manti Teo and Melvin Ingram back, which will give a big boost to the LB crew. Rivers is nursing a rib injury, but at this point in the season, he isnt the only banged-up QB in action.
This is a difficult spot to cast a prediction. The Chargers appear to still be looking for their footing. After a 5-game winning streak where they looked as good as any team in the conference, they went into a prolonged funk, capped off with a 37-0 disaster against Miami before the bye week. The injuries across all areas of the team have been monstrously-disruptive to the teams development and they simply may no longer be the team we saw during that streak. Its been a good 6-7 weeks since weve seen the Chargers looking really good. Expecting them to snap out of it at some point could be a costly exercise. They may no longer be capable of capturing that form anymore.
On one hand, the Rams seem to be getting better, while the Chargers are getting worse. But lets face it, the starting points are very different. The Chargers look bad compared to the fever pitch they established earlier this season. Meanwhile, anything the Rams did well was going to be lauded after a 1-4 start. While injuries and a lack of momentum, combined with an alarming offensive showing on Sunday painted the Chargers as a diminished force, this could be a get-well week. This will be the Rams 4th road game in 5 weeks and they have been run ragged all over the country against a very demanding list of teams. I look for San Diego to put together 4 quarters of good football, notching the cover over a game Rams team.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 5.5 points.