Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers
Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 4:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: San Diego -2
Current Line: San Diego -2 1/2 (-120)
Opening Total: 45 1/2
Current Total: 46
Opening Money Line: Chargers -145 / Lions +125
Current Money Line: Chargers -150 / Lions +130
The San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions open the season in San Diego Sunday. This is the 11th meeting ever between the teams with the Chargers holding a 6-4 advantage. The Lions won the last meeting 38-10 in Detroit in 2011. The win snapped a six game losing streak for the Lions against the Chargers.
Detroit is coached by Jim Caldwell. The Lions went 11-5 last year and finished a game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. The Lions would qualify for the playoffs and lose at the NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys in the Wild card playoffs. The Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991. Detroit went 3-1 in the pre-season this year.
San Diego is coached by Mike McCoy. The Chargers went 9-7 last year and narrowly missed the playoffs. San Diego was tied for second in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs, behind the 12-4 Denver Broncos. The Chargers went 2-2 in the pre-season this year.
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Detroit averaged 341 yards per game on offense last year, including 252 passing and 89 rushing yards. The Lions were #12 in passing and #28 in rushing. While in the past, the Lions were known for having a great offense and a suspect defense, it was the opposite last year. The Lions were #2 in total defense at 301 yards per game, including 232 passing and 69 rushing yards. Detroit led the league in rush defense and was #13 in pass defense. The Lions were tied for second in points allowed at 17.6 per game. The Lions were +7 in turnovers.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 4,257 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and rushed for 96 yards with 2 touchdowns. Stafford cut down his interceptions from 19 in 2013 but he still makes too many mistakes to be considered an elite quarterback. He has started every game over the last four seasons. Dan Orlovsky is the back-up.
Running back Joique Bell is back after rushing for 860 yards on 223 carries with 7 touchdowns, along with 34 catches for 322 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a foot injury. The Lions drafted Ameer Abdullah in the second round out of Nebraska. Abdullah rushed for over 1,600 yards with 19 touchdowns last year for Nebraska and also had just under 300 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns. George Winn and Theo Riddick will also get some carries. Michael Burton, a fifth round pick out of Rutgers will start at fullback.
Calvin Johnson is still one of the best receivers in football. He made only one catch in the month of October after reaggravating an ankle injury in the first game of that month in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Still, Johnson made 71 catches for 1,077 yards and 8 touchdowns. Golden Tate had 99 catches for 1,331 yards and 4 touchdowns. Together, Johnson and Tate make up one of the best receiving duos in the league. Running back Riddick had 34 catches for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jeremy Ross had 24 catches for 314 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Eric Ebron looks to improve after a disappointing rookie year with 25 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown. However, he is probable with an ankle injury. Receiver Corey Fuller and tight end Brandon Pettigrew will also get some targets.
Eight defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the Lions.
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San Diego averaged 342 yards per game on offense including 256 passing and 85 rushing yards. The Chargers were #10 in passing but #30 in rushing. The Chargers averaged 21.8 points per game. San Diego was -5 in turnovers. The Chargers allowed 338 yards per game, including 214 passing and 124 rushing yards. San Diego was in the top ten in both pass and total defense. San Diego also allowed 21.8 points per game.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers just signed a new contract extension. He threw for 4,286 yards with 31 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and also rushed for 102 yards. Kellen Clemens is the back-up.
Like the Lions, the Chargers drafted a Big Ten running back with a high pick in order to fix their anemic rushing game. San Diego drafted Melvin Gordon in the first round out of Wisconsin. He is listed second on the depth chart behind Branden Oliver, who had 160 carries for 582 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 36 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown. Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead will also get some carries.
Receiver Malcolm Floyd had 52 catches for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the substance abuse policy. He had 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns. His replacement Ladarius Green is also out with out with a concussion. John Phillips will likely start at tight end. Keenan Allen had 77 catches for 783 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Detroit is 5-1 ATS in September, 4-1 in week one, 1-5 in road games, and 0-7 on grass.
San Diego is 10-1-1 ATS in September, 2-9 overall, 1-9 on grass, and 0-5 at home. The Chargers ahve covered 4 of the last 5 against the Lions.
Detroit has a lot of injuries on defense. Still, they have a lot of talent. Rivers doesn’t have his security blanket in Gates. It is unclear who else Rivers will throw to except for Floyd and Allen. I like the Lions to pull off the upset on the road in a low scoring game.