Free NFL Pick: San Diego at Houston 11-07-2010

November 5, 2010


San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans

Sunday, November 7th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: San Diego -3


The 3-5 San Diego Chargers are winless on the road. Naturally, Vegas has once again made them the favorites against the 4-3 Houston Texans. The Chargers have the best defense statistically to go along with the best passing attack in the league. That has made them favorites in nearly every game this year, despite posting five losses.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Chargers only allow 176.9 yards in the air a game, making them the number one pass defense in the league. Many wanted to know how the Chargers would fair after Antonio Cromartie left town, but Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason make one of the best cornerback tandems in the entire league. While it is easy to give the credit to the defensive backs, a huge part of their success against the pass has come from the pressure being applied up front. Quarterbacks are feeling the heat, as the Chargers have amassed 25 sacks already this season. This is forcing quick throws and a slew of underneath routes. The Chargers send backers constantly, but seem to keep everything in front of them, which is a rare combination.
  • Usually when you get a team that is so dominant in one area of defense, it comes at the expense of another, but nothing could be further from the truth in the Charger’s case. They have the second best run defense in the NFL. The Chargers have only allowed 83.1 yards a game on the ground. The Chargers make a living by wreaking havoc in the backfield. They do a great job of getting to the point of attack, while still covering all their cues. They have tremendous discipline, considering how aggressive they are. No Shawne Merriman? No Problem.
  • The Texans need Arian Foster to get something going on the ground. Foster is the second leading rusher in the NFL this season and has made opponents play the Texans honestly. The Texans have had a big time passing offense over the last few years, but now they have to account for Foster, who has already broken or 100 or more yards four times this season. He will have his hands full this weekend, but so will the passing offense. Foster may struggle, but the worst thing the Texans can do is abandon the run, as they did against the Giants.
  • The Texans can’t sit back and watch Philip Rivers throw all over them. The Chargers have the number one passing offense in the NFL. Inconveniently, the Texans happen to have the worst pass defense in the league, allowing 299.4 yards a game through the air. The Texans don’t attack the run with wreckless abandon, so it is safe to say they simply don’t have the personnel to get it done. The heart and soul of their defense, Demeco Ryans, is sidelined with an injury. His absence resonates throughout the entire defense. It is going to be interesting to see how the Texans handle having such a pivotal part of their defense out, but ignoring it as though he is still there is not the way to go about it. Cushing is filling in nicely, but it is taking away from his production on the outside. The Texans need a serious defensive adjustment. While their offense has the ability to carry them through games at times, but giving up at least 24 points in every single game this season is what is holding their football team back from being great.
  • The Chargers might be the best team against the pass in the NFL, but they have not seen anyone like Andre Johnson this year. Johnson has been targeted 65 times already this season. While the Chargers are going to force the ball out of Matt Schaub’s hand quickly, Andre Johnson is still going going to be productive. WhileĀ  he might not rack up 100 yards, as he has in the last two games, he will most certainly be the target of a large majority of Matt Schaub’s passes.
  • Mario Williams has been kept in check the last three games. After totaling five sacks in the first four games, he has been completely kept away from the quarterback in this last three outings. Williams production is down, but part of that is due to the fact that every team accounts for him on every play. He is the one player teams really need to gameplan against, as he is a nightmare in one on one matchups. Williams isn’t the first defensive lineman to be double teamed on nearly every play. He needs to learn to adapt to it, as the great ones before him have.

Wrap Up:

The Chargers need to take a page out of their division rival Raider’s book. Al Davis once said, “Just win baby.” The Chargers might play well and Antonio Gates might set records and they might be the best team statistically in the NFL, but there is only one stat that matters. If the Chargers don’t win, nobody is going to recognize what they are doing on both sides of the ball. The fans are frustrated, the team is frustrated, and Vegas is frustrated. The Chargers are favored again. If Ryans was playing in this game, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the Texans, but they miss their middle linebacker dearly. I’m going with the Chargers, though I hate to do so given their lack of wins this season to teams who are less talented.

Free NFL Pick: San Diego -3

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