San Diego Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview
Where: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
When: Sunday, October 23, 4:05 PM ET
TV Broadcast: FOX
Writer’s Pick: Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
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Betting on the San Diego Chargers (+6.5)
San Diego finally snapped its streak of disastrous fourth-quarter collapses with a 21-13 home win over the Denver Broncos. The Super Bowl champion Broncos weren’t quite at their best, with quarterback Trevor Siemian just returning from a sprained shoulder and head coach Gary Kubiak missing the game due to illness. But it was still a creditable win for the Chargers, who are now 2-4 (4-2 ATS) on the season.
The Chargers will definitely be a dangerous road underdog in Atlanta. They have held a lead during the fourth quarter in all three of their road games thus far, although they’ve been unable to seal the deal in any of the three.
The offense, led by Philip Rivers, has proven to be quite capable of putting points up despite losing key weapons like Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. The running game has been fairly productive thanks to a healthy offensive line, while rookie tight end Hunter Henry has emerged as a worthy heir to Antonio Gates. Henry’s topped 60 receiving yards in his last four games, and has caught a touchdown in his last three.
Don’t be surprised if Henry has another major impact against a Falcons defense which is not the best against tight ends. They ranked 22nd per DVOA against tight ends entering Week 6, and gave up 89 yards to Seattle’s Jimmy Graham.
Betting on the Atlanta Falcons (-6.5)
The Falcons (4-2) would rather have the actual win, but they did get a bit of a moral victory in their 26-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. They were down by 14 at halftime and their running game was completely shut down by the Seahawks’ terrific front. But their stars, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, stepped up and carried the Falcons back into the lead before squandering it late.
The Falcons still covered, though, and are now 5-1 ATS this season.
More than their success throwing against the Legion of Boom, the bigger sign of Atlanta’s growing status as a true NFC contender is its improving defense. Vic Beasley and the Falcons pass rush didn’t have six sacks like they did against the Broncos, but the pass defense as a whole was still quite good. It was able to limit Russell Wilson’s impact and held him without a touchdown pass.
Another fine performance from the Falcons pass defense should put the team in an ideal position against a pass-heavy Chargers attack.
Atlanta’s backfield duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman was held to just 67 total yards from scrimmage by the Seattle D, but they should return to something closer to their normal production against an inconsistent Chargers defense. The two had averaged a combined 178 yards from scrimmage heading into Week 6, the most for a backfield in the NFL.
Jones, who had 139 receiving yards against Seattle, could also have another huge game now that he won’t have to contend with San Diego’s top corner Jason Verrett (torn ACL).
The Falcons take out their frustrations on the Chargers, who can’t keep it close enough this time around. Atlanta (-6.5) covers in a 31-24 home win.
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