San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, October 23, 2016, 4:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Atlanta -6
Current Line: Atlanta -5 1/2
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 55
Opening Money Line: Falcons -265 / Chargers +215
Current Money Line: Falcons -235 / Chargers +195
The 4-2 Atlanta Falcons return home after a difficult two game Western road trip where they split with the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons host the 2-4 San Diego Chargers. Atlanta is in first place in the NFC South ahead of the 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. San Diego is in last place in the AFC West with every other team at 4-2 or 3-2.
Atlanta leads the series 8-1 against San Diego. The Falcons have won six straight games in the series including 27-3 in San Diego in 2012. The only win for the Chargers against the Falcons came in 1988. The teams are playing in Atlanta for the first time since 2004.
San Diego is coached by Mike McCoy. The Chargers home wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars 38-14 and Denver Broncos 21-13 last Thursday. San Diego has road losses the Kansas City Chiefs 33-27 in overtime, Indianapolis Colts 26-22, and Oakland Raiders 34-31, plus a home loss to the New Orleans Saints 35-34. The Chargers led in the fourth quarter of three of their four losses. Against Denver, San Diego led 10-3 at halftime and added three field goals in the third quarter to lead 19-3. The Chargers would add a safety to make it 21-3, but had to hold off a Denver rally. The Broncos had a failed Hail Mary attempt on the last play of the game to potentially tie the game. San Diego was a 3 point underdog and the total was 44. The Chargers are 4-2 ATS and the total is 4-2 this season.
Atlanta is coached by Dan Quinn. The Falcons lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 in week one and last week at the Seattle Seahawks 26-24 to snap a four game winning streak. Atlanta has road wins over the Oakland Raiders 35-28, New Orleans Saints 45-32, and against the Denver Broncos 23-16, plus a home win over the Carolina Panthers 48-33.
Against Seattle, the Falcons trailed 17-3 at halftime. However, Atlanta scored 21 straight points in the third quarter to take a 24-17 lead going into the fourth. Seattle scored with 4:43 left in the fourth but the extra point was blocked. After a Matt Ryan interception, Seattle took over at midfield. The Seahawks would kick the go-ahead 44 yard field goal. Atlanta threw deep on fourth and 10 but the pass was incomplete. Falcons’ backers thought it should have been called pass interference but the referees did not throw the flag. Seattle ran out the clock to seal the hard fought victory. The Falcons were 7 point underdogs against the Seahawks and the total was 45.5. Atlanta is 5-1 ATS and the over is 5-1 this season.
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San Diego is outscoring teams 29-26 this season. The Chargers are #3 in scoring but #23 in points allowed. San Diego averages 355 yards per game on offense including 263 passing yards and 92 rushing yards. On defense, San Diego allows 363 yards per game including 280 passing yards per game and 84 rushing yards. The Chargers are #5 in rush defense but #24 against the pass. San Diego is 30/76 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 37/89. The Chargers have forced 13 sacks and has allowed 14 this season. San Diego is -2 in turnovers.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has completed 67.2% of his passes for 1,647 yards with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, plus 5 carries for 21 yards.
Running back Melvin Gordon has 116 carries for 393 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 14 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Running back Danny Woodhead is out for the season with a knee injury. He had 19 carries for 116 yards plus 6 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. Dexter McCluster is questionable with a hamstring injury. Kenneth Farrow will likely get the back-up carries without Woodhead. He only has 6 carries for the season.
Receiver Travis Benjamin has 31 catches for 411 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury. Tyrell Williams has 24 catches for 386 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rookie tight end Hunter Henry has 19 catches for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dontrelle Inman has 14 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Gates has 12 catches for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a hamstring injury. Ten defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
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Atlanta is outscoring teams 34-28 this season. The Falcons are #1 in scoring and #26 in points allowed. Atlanta averages 442 yards per game on offense including 330 passing yards and 1112 rushing yards. Atlanta leads the league in total offense, is #2 in passing and is #9 in rushing. On defense, Atlanta allows 380 yards per game including 285 passing and 94 rushing yards. Atlanta is #24 in total defense and #26 against the pass. The Falcons are 26/79 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 38/89. Atlanta has forced 11 sacks and allowed 15 this season. The Falcons are +1 in turnovers with 2 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 68.1% of his passes for 2,075 yards with 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, plus 16 carries for 52 yards. He is an early contender for the MVP.
Running back Devonta Freeman has 90 carries for 450 yards and 2 touchdowns and also has 17 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman has 51 carries for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also has 18 catches for 320 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Julio Jones has 31 catches for 656 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Jacob Tamme has 19 catches for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 21 catches for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a groin injury. Eight defensive players are listed on the injury report for the Falcons including six linebackers.
San Diego is 4-0 ATS against teams with winning records and winning home records, 8-1 in road games, 5-1 after a cover, 4-1 after allowing 90 rushing yards or more, 8-2 overall, 3-7 in October, 1-4 in week 7, and 1-6 after a straight up win. The road team is 4-0 ATS in this series recently.
Atlanta is 5-0 ATS overall, 4-0 after a cover, and after allowing 250 passing yards or more, 11-5 in week 7, 3-7 against teams with losing records, 3-8 after passing for more than 250 yards, 4-11 against teams with losing road records, 2-6 after a straight up loss and at home. The last four games in this series have gone under the total.
This should be a shootout with two explosive offenses and mediocre defenses. Despite an impressive showing out west, this is the kind of game Atlanta should win if they are truly contenders in the NFC. I think they win this game by pulling away late.