New England at San Diego -3 (+105) O/U 47
Recommendation: San Diego
There aren’t many teams in the NFL that have been able to dominate the New England Patriots more than once in recent years. In fact, in the last five years, only two teams have more than one regular season double-digit victory over the Pats – their division rivals in Miami, and the San Diego Chargers, who they face this weekend. The Chargers beat the Pats 41-17 in New England in 2005, and beat them 30-10 in their most recent meeting in 2008.
There’s no question that San Diego is a hungry, desperate team after dropping back-to-back games at Oakland and St Louis over the past two weeks. This is nothing new or different for Norv Turner’s squad – they haven’t been above .500 after six games in any of his four years on the job. But San Diego’s track record following these slow starts has been extremely impressive in the Turner era, with a 23-7 SU record in their final ten regular season games over the past three seasons.
It’s not going to be easy for San Diego to have a similar hot streak here in 2010. The Chargers are riddled with injuries right now. Their receiving corps was decimated last weekend, with Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates and Legadu Naanee – a trio that has combined for nearly 1200 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns – all questionable or doubtful to suit up this weekend. Kicker Nate Kaeding has a hamstring injury and may not be able to go on Sunday.
New England changed their offensive game plan last week, their first without Randy Moss in the lineup. Tom Brady didn’t throw many deep balls, without a single completion longer than 30 yards. And Brady took a lot of hits, holding the ball too long while waiting for his receivers to break free. Meanwhile, the Pats defense was forced to blitz a lot trying to generate a pass rush. When those blitzers didn’t reach the quarterback, their cornerbacks really struggled to maintain coverage one-on-one.
The Patriots have won three straight since their Week 2 loss at the Jets, rallying from a double-digit deficit to beat Baltimore in overtime last week. Put those factors together with the long trip to the West Coast, and it’s clear that the spot here favors the desperate Chargers. The Turner-Belichick coaching mismatch has generated a relatively cheap price to support the home team in a situation where they are likely to bring their ‘A’ game.
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