San Diego Chargers (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS)
Week 7 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: SD +6.5/ATL -6.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5
The San Diego Chargers come into the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in key week seven action. The Chargers are a bit out of their element on the fast track inside the dome. There are a lot of players on the roster who have never played here before. Nevertheless, one can't afford to overlook the Chargers, who might be the best first-half team in the game. Their second-half showings have left something to be desired. But they prevailed on Thursday Night Football at home against the Broncos, winning, 21-13, in a must-win. The Falcons have been a major surprise this season, but fell just short on the road to Seattle, 26-24, in a wild one. Can they bounce back and be ready for the incoming challenge.
The Chargers were able to finally close out a win on TNF against Denver at home. Still, there were some anxious moments, as Denver cut into a two-score lead late and recovered an onside kick with a chance to tie it late. And with the way the Chargers have been snake-bitten, fans and backers alike can never rest until it's officially over. But they got the win. And even at 2-4, they represent a dangerous team, a squad that should at least be 4-1, if not unbeaten at 5-0.
The Chargers have gotten great play from Philip Rivers and to some extent, the entire offense. They are trying to make up for immense losses in personnel and haven't done too badly. In addition to the fine play of Rivers, They've gotten 6 rushing TDs from Melvin Gordon and one in the air. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are forming into a nice 1-2 punch for Rivers. Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates give the San Diego offense big and reliable targets at tight end. They're averaging over 28 points a game and their offense performs well on the road. Against the Denver defense on Thursday, the offense wasn't at its best, though they moved the ball well. A lot of drives petered out, with Josh Lambo kicking 4 field goals.
The San Diego defense is not iron-clad, but there are some things to like from this unit that were not in place in recent seasons. Allowing 13 points to Denver was a good start, as they forced a bad game from Trevor Siemian, recovered two fumbles, and got two sacks. The line gets a big boost from the play of Joey Bosa, who has enhanced the pass-rush. Brandon Mebane has helped this line become better against the run. LBs Jantavis Brown and Melvin Ingram have been getting after quarterbacks. The secondary looked a lot better before they got hit by injuries, but have still shown some upside and should get Brandon Flowers back soon. They've lost some pieces on this side of the ball, as they have on offense. They've also collapsed late in games. But coordinator John Pagano has turned this group loose more and they do a lot of things right and keep offenses guessing. On the right day, they're pretty good. Against the versatile and multi-dimensional Atlanta offense on the road, it might not be the right day.
Atlanta nearly added yet another huge win on Sunday, After beating last season's Super Bowl teams in consecutive weeks, they were on the precipice of adding a win on the road over Seattle. It was a strange on at CenturyLink on Sunday. The Seahawks appeared to be in full control. The Falcons offense couldn't get much of anything going in the first half. The Seahawks got out to a big 17-3 lead and with how their defense was playing, it looked like a long day was in store for the Falcons. Matt Ryan was hit repeatedly and sacked three times.
In the third quarter, the Falcons exploded with 21 points, Ryan was 13-for-17 with 230 yards and three touchdown scores—in the third quarter alone. Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Levine Toilolo were the recipients of the TD passes and suddenly it was 24-17 Atlanta. Atlanta also stepped up when it looked like the Seahawks were going to tie the game, blocking an extra point after a Seattle TD to keep it 24-23. But late in the game, a pass intended for Jones slipped through his hands and was deflected into the hands of Earl Thomas, which set up the Seahawks for the go-ahead field goal. Four incomplete Ryan passes later, it was a wrap.
On one hand, it was a painful loss for the Falcons. But they should be able to resign themselves to the fact that there is more to like about the first six games of the season than to dislike and that winning on Sunday will help make it a memory. For a team that fell to such depths last season after a 5-0 start, they should know more about how to safeguard that from happening this season. Even on the road against what still might be the best defense in football, they were able to show how explosive they are. They can run the ball and have an electric aerial attack with a vast array of different ball-catchers with varying ranges of skills.
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The sizzling Falcons offense has camouflaged some of the inadequacies on the other side of the ball. They have in fact given up some pretty hefty yardage totals to opposing quarterbacks. Then again, teams are airing it out more after falling behind, though that was not the context on Sunday with Russell Wilson putting up 270 yards. They're not bad against the run, though Seattle had some success on Sunday. And they're giving up almost 28 points a game.
San Diego is better-rested and feeling better about last week. Still, it's a tough road spot for the Chargers. These teams are a combined 9-3 against the spread this season. For all their issues, San Diego can move the ball and sometimes quite well. And Philip Rivers should be able to find ample spots against this Falcons "D." But that doesn't account for what the Atlanta offense will do against the San Diego defense. But the Chargers "D" has played well in spots and should do so again on Sunday.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 6.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Chargers vs. Falcons game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!