Coming off of a two-game winning streak against division opponents, the San Diego Chargers head to New York to face a Giants team that has lost three straight. The Chargers are hoping that both streaks are extended as they look to win three in a row and climb back into the playoff race. The Giants, however, are not to be taken lightly and will pose some real problems for the Bolts.
CHARGERS PASSING ATTACK VS. GIANTS BLITZ PACKAGES
When you look at these two teams, both face matchup nightmares: The Chargers come into this game as one of the league's best teams at creating big plays down the field in the passing game. The Giants have had some significant injuries in the secondary, and are struggling to compensate. Philip Rivers is going to try to exploit that weakness, something Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is expecting:
"As much as anybody we have played, they really, really throw the ball down the field," says Sheridan. "Their numbers are astronomical as far as volume of big throws that they have had. Our guys understand that and it is very easy to pinpoint the back-end guys and say they have to handle those deep throws. As you know, it is a collective effort in regards to putting pressure on the quarterbacks, and weave out receivers at the line of scrimmage so they don’t get down field as easily and all that kind of stuff. Everybody is tied in, in trying to defend those kinds of plays."
Defensively, the Giants will counter the Bolts' deep-ball gameplan with a variety of confusing front and blitzes. The Chargers offensive line will be put to the test this week as they try to give their quarterback the time he needs to have plays unfold down field. If the Chargers don't have success running the ball, they'll face blitz after blitz and will give a very talented Giants defensive line more opportunities to get hits on the quarterback.
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has a tremendous amount of respect for the Chargers offensive firepower, but he plans on staying after it all game long.
"My job is to get after the quarterback and that’s what I have to do, regardless if he holds the ball for a second or he holds it for 10," says Tuck. "Yeah they do like to throw the ball down the field, so the opportunity should be there."
Pro football is an elaborate game of matchups and mismatches, and Norv Turner is a masterful schemer. He'll dial up the deep ball when he sees the opportunities present themselves, but he'll also need to keep the Giants defense off balance with short and intermediate routes to disrupt their timing. Coach Turner is well aware that the Giants are one of the NFC's very best at getting to the quarterback. They've got fast, athletic linemen who are quick off the ball and can be moved around:
"They’ve got a lot of guys that can change games," Coach Turner says. "They've got a lot of guys who can make plays. They do a great job with their blitz scheme. They've been able to get great pressure on quarterbacks and that's kind of been their deal. It's a great challenge."
ODDS AND ENDS
While Week 9 fights for your betting attention with the Breeders Cup, World Series of Poker final table and Strikeforce (there are plenty of fun prop bets to be had on those events), Charger fans have circled this week for some interesting trends.
Week 9 is the final week where you can put your pre-bye-week handicapping skills to the test and the Giants and Texans both head into the final bye of the season.
Those teams hit that break in very different moods, but both really need to show up in Week 9. The Giants bring a three-game losing skid to a home date with San Diego. Hitting the bye on a four-game losing streak and knowing either the Cowboys or Eagles will be 6-2 is not the way Eli Manning wants this to go down.
However, the Giants have looked bad and face the Chargers (the team that drafted Eli) boast a strong history of road covers against the NFC East (7-2 ATS past 9).
The Texans are hot and finally starting to show the promise that has bettors backing them the past few seasons. But with Steve Slaton slumping and Owen Daniels gone, can they continue their 3-1 road mark at Indy?
Houston is just 1-13 SU lifetime against Peyton Manning, although the total has been a reliable play in recent seasons. All eight prior meetings have played OVER the total.
And while bodog recently announced it is booking bets at 8/1 on the Saints marching to a perfect 16-0 season, some bettors are looking at the trends this week and figuring they are in trouble right now.
Carolina comes to town, fresh off a win at Arizona as a double-digit dog. They are in the same point-spread predicament this week, but they have won seven straight trips to the Superdome and are 8-0 ATS since 2000 here! Fluke? Maybe the Saints ain’t as good as we think and maybe the Cats ain’t as bad.
Other Week 9 trends (see the weekly Trend Sheet at OddsShark.com)
Philly vs Dallas - OVER is 7-1 past 8 meetings at Philly
Denver vs Pittsburgh - Broncos underdog again, they are 7-3 SU past 10 as dog.
Pats vs Fins – Patriots 6-1 ATS after a bye week
Washington vs Atlanta – Redskins 10-3 ATS past 13 games after bye
Cincy vs Baltimore – Bungles are 2-8 ATS past 10 seasons after bye week
For live odds, matchup reports and searchable NFL handicapping databases, visit OddsShark.com
MY WEEKEND PICKS
* Atlanta over Washington
* Arizona over Chicago
* Baltimore over Cincinnati
* Houston over Indianapolis
* New England over Miami
* Green Bay over Tampa Bay
* Jacksonville over Kansas City
* New Orleans over Carolina
* Seattle over Detroit
* San Fransisco over Tennessee
* San Diego over NY Giants
* Philadelphia over Dallas
* Pittsburgh over Denver
As always, I love to hear from you guys; I'm constantly impressed by the quality of your takes on the Chargers and the NFL. Do the Chargers have what it takes to go to New York and beat the Giants? Which team should be considered the favorite? Are you confident the Chargers o-line will protect their quarterback? Is this game even bigger because of the Eli Manning - Philip Rivers connection? Drop a comment below, and don't forget to vote on the poll!
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