San Diego Chargers (4-6 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
Week 12 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: SD +1/HOU -1
Over/Under Total: 47
The San Diego Chargers come into NRG Stadium on Sunday to face the Houston Texans in week 12 action in the AFC. San Diego comes to Houston after the bye week. Just before that, they lost at home to Miami, 31-24. They won 3 of 4 just before that, but against Miami, we saw some of the things that had the Chargers in a lot of trouble earlier in the season. They try to right the ship in a tough road assignment against the Texans. The Texans have to regroup after coming out of Mexico City empty-handed after a Monday Night Football loss to the Raiders, 27-20.
San Diego could be doing a lot better this season if not for late-game collapses. In their first 4 losses, they really should have won all those games, if not at least three of them. They looked to exorcise those demons in subsequent games, as they were able to finish games well. In their loss to Miami in week 10, however, they took a 10-0 lead and were soon scrambling to keep the surging Dolphins under control. And up by 3 points with 4 minutes left, they lost by 7 in regulation, with Miami tying the game with a FG, before a Philip Rivers interception was run back 60 yards for a touchdown. On the afternoon, the normally-accurate Rivers threw four picks.
As is usually the case, the interceptions were not all Rivers' fault, though the last one was hard to figure. Receivers sometimes make mistakes and the line was really laboring, getting manhandled at times by the Miami front. Late in the game, the resistance was almost nil, as tackles were being stood up, while the inside collapsed more often than not. Still, the offense has been able to maintain fairly well, despite a litany of injuries. Melvin Gordon has been tremendous in his second season on the ground, while being a dependable short-pass option for Rivers. Receivers Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman have both produced, while we're seeing Antonio Gates very active in this offense after being quiet much of the season. They are second in the league with 29.2 points a game. Only their lack of late-game clutch has led to going 4-6 despite only one team putting up more points than they have.
The San Diego defense hasn't been very good and several collapses this season make it hard for a team to thrive. As much as they're a handicap to the overall team effort, they have been dealt an unnerving amount of injuries. The injury list looks more like the defensive roster than the actual one. The line is coming around with Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget, and rookie Joey Bosa. Edge-rusher Melvin Ingram is a handful. But the middle, which has looked good at times, is dealing with a lot of injuries, with Manto Teo out for the season and Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown questionable after missing the last game. And one of the better SD secondary groups in recent memory has also been compromised with injuries.
Houston got a rough shake on MNF. It's understandable after such a narrow non-cover why fans and financial backers would feel a bit cheated. A DeAndre Hopkins TD was ruled out-of-bunds, while two unfavorable spots killed their final-quarter momentum. Oakland was held in check offensively for much of the game by a good-looking Houston defense, until Carr connected twice on scores in the final quarter to help send Houston home a loser. Still, they enter week 12 in first place in the AFC South.
The Texans played well enough to win on MNF, despite a late defensive collapse. Considering the locale of the game and the quality of opponent, it's a loss they should be able to take in stride. They should still have their hands full with a rested and dangerous San Diego team. The Texans have been markedly better at home this season, going 5-0 at NRG Stadium. We saw some good things on both sides of the ball on Monday and they look to take it a step further on Sunday at home in a key game against the Chargers.
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Brock Osweiler wasn't terrible on MNF, connecting well with his ball-catchers at times, while getting a nice showing from RB Lamar Miller, who ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. Tight end CJ Fiedorowicz led receivers with 82 yards and continues to grow as a weapon. Still, with DeAndre Hopkins, promising rookie Will Fuller, Fiedorowicz, and others, they should probably be better than 30th in passing offense. Their high point-total on the season is 27 points.
Houston will try to ride their defense into the postseason and it's a good one. Other than one bad quarter, they did awfully well against a high-flying Oakland offense. They are getting good play in the front seven with Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing, Benardrick McKinney, and Whitney Mercillus. The secondary with Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, AJ Bouye, Andre Hal, and Quintin Demps are really a top group and make a lot of big plays.
The Chargers are rested, but still face a lot of injury issues that a bye can't fix. Still, the break should help a weary and battered bunch. The Chargers can thrive when least expected to. When people expect big things, that's where they usually fall flat. I see Rivers spraying the ball around with a fresher Melvin Gordon putting the Houston defense to the test. I'm taking San Diego.
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