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Thursday, October 31, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 9: Chargers vs Redskins

San Diego Chargers vs Washington Redskins: SD -1 (Bet365)

Market Watch

Since last week we've seen a flip-flop of favorites for this game. A week ago Vegas had the Redskins as -1 point favorites. After another down performance by Washington in Week 8, this game reopened at 'pick em'.

Now the Chargers are the favorite at -1.  This isn't a big surprise given how the Skins folded against the Broncos, and 65% of the bets are on San Diego as a result.

What to watch for

I think it's safe to say that RG3 is not anywhere close to where he was last year. Looking back, many people (including myself) thought he would start off the season just fine, but his knee is probably months away from being "right".

In Week 8, he only had three yards on five carries. Two of them he failed to convert on third down, and the other was a fumble. Ouch. He coughed up the ball again on a sack.

Right now he's not striking fear into opposing defenses with his legs, and he's too inconsistent as a passer to carry a team to a win (at least so far).

The problems don't stop there though. He still doesn't have a reliable receiver opposite Garcon and the left side of his offensive line continues to give up a ton of pressure. The primary bright spots come from Jordan Reed at tight end, and a lethal rushing attack.

Is that going to be enough? The Chargers certainly aren't good against the run, but they've been a bend-but-don't-break unit all year. Between the 20s they allow teams up and down the field, but in crunch time on third down and in the red zone, they've come out on top more times than not.

In fact, the Chargers defense has now gone 11 quarters without giving up a touchdown. Liuget and Reyes are their best run stoppers, and they are being complimented by some unexpected sack production (14 in the last 4 games).

I think the big problem for the Skins will be when Rivers has the ball though. With Mathews, Woodhead, Gates, Allen, Brown, and Royal, there are more than enough options for San Diego to move the ball.

The Skins rank near the bottom in pass defense, drive efficiency, and red zone stops.

Making matters worse, Washington rank dead last in average starting net field position and special teams.

Bottom Line

This sets up to be a close game, but I think the Chargers deserve to be -3 point favorites. Their defense is showing signs of improvement despite its flaws and they are going up against an RG3 that isn't on top of his game.

I like Rivers to continue his bounce back season and put up enough points to pull out a win and cover. Nothing about Washington's defense scares me outside of Orakpo.

NFL Pick: SD -1.
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