Not too long ago, this game between Green Bay and San Diego on Sunday looked like a potential Super Bowl preview.
Green Bay, the NFL’s only unbeaten team, has certainly kept up its part of the bargain. But the Bolts have dropped two straight to raise questions about Norv Turner’s job status in San Diego (again).
Can the Packers become the second team to go 16-0 in the regular season? Certainly Aaron Rodgers and Co. seem to be humming on all cylinders and enter off a bye week, so they are rested and healthy. And looking at the Green Bay Packers schedule, barring a Rodgers injury, it’s hard to see Green Bay being an underdog the rest of the season.
Certainly the Pack will never be a 'dog at home and their road games after this are at the Lions on Thanksgiving (Green Bay could all but clinch the NFC North with a win in that one), at the NFC East-leading Giants in Week 13 and at the resurgent Chiefs in Week 15. I would argue this week’s game is their toughest road test remaining.
Packers at Chargers Betting Storylines
Some are calling San Diego’s 23-20 overtime loss in Kansas City on Monday night perhaps the franchise’s most bitter regular-season loss since the famous “Holy Roller” game vs. the Raiders in 1978.
The Chargers looked lousy offensively, but they managed to rally from a 13-3 halftime deficit and 20-12 mid-fourth quarter deficit to tie the game at 20. It seemed a win was a lock with the Bolts having the ball at the KC 15-yard-line with under a minute remaining and poised to kick a winning field goal. But inexplicably, Philip Rivers fumbled the snap from center when all he had to do was take a knee, and the Chiefs recovered, then won in OT.
Is Rivers hurt? That seems to be a prominent question in San Diego. He threw two more interceptions on Monday night and now has 11 to lead the NFL (against seven TD passes). He also lost a fumble vs. KC and leads the NFL with 14 total giveaways.
In addition, the Bolts lost starting RB Ryan Mathews (seventh in NFL in yards from scrimmage) to a strained groin Monday and he’s in doubt for Sunday. Third-stringer Curtis Brinkley, who played well when Mathews went out, suffered a concussion in the game and also is in question. Also, starting left guard Kris Dielman is likely out another game.
The good news is that power running back Mike Tolbert should return after sitting out Monday.
The other good news is that slow starts are nothing new under Turner, although things looked different this year at 4-2. The Bolts usually take off once the calendar turns to November.
Last year they went 6-2 from Nov. 1 on. Two years ago it was 10-0. And know this: San Diego is 7-0 ATS in its last seven November games. However, seven of San Diego’s final nine games this season are vs. teams with current winning records.
No news is good news for Green Bay (7-0). Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL MVP, leading the NFL in passer rating (125.6) and TD passes (20). Rodgers has finished shy of 300-yards passing in only one game, and that was by just three yards. He has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season.
Dating to last season and including playoffs, Green Bay has won 13 games in a row and seven straight on the road. The Pack are 4-1 after a bye under Coach Mike McCarthy.
The only thing to nitpick about Green Bay is the No. 31 pass defense. The pass rush hasn’t been as strong this year as last, thus forcing Green Bay to blitz more and leave more man-to-man coverage in the secondary.
The Packer pass defense is tied for second in the NFL with 13 picks, led by Charles Woodson’s five, so Rivers seems likely add to his NFL-worst total this week.
For what it’s worth, Green Bay is 7-1 all-time vs. the Chargers and unbeaten at San Diego (5-0). But the teams haven’t played since 2007 and that was at Lambeau; you may remember that game as Brett Favre tied Dan Marino’s record of 420 career touchdown passes.
Packers at Chargers Betting Odds and Trends
Green Bay is currently a 5.5-point favorite with the total at 51. Approximately 65 percent of the lean is on the Pack. Green Bay is 5-2 ATS this season and 2-2 on the road. San Diego is 2-5 ATS and 1-2 at home. The ‘over/under’ is 4-3 for Pack, 3-4 for Bolts.
Packers are 9-2 ATS in past 11 following a win. They are 4-0 ATS in past four vs. teams with a winning record. The Bolts are 5-0 ATS in the last five games as a home dog, but 0-3-1 ATS in the past four after a loss. The ‘under’ is 8-2 in the Packers’ last 10 as a road favorite.
NFL Picks: Packers at Chargers Betting Preview
Needless to say, Green Bay is unbeaten on the road, while San Diego is unbeaten at home. Other than handling Chicago pretty easily, the Packers’ other three road games all were a bit of a struggle: Carolina was up 13-0 at one point, Atlanta was up 14-0 and Minnesota almost staged a big rally behind a rookie QB making his first start.
On the flip side, San Diego didn’t look particularly good in its home wins over Minnesota, Kansas City and Miami. The Bolts haven’t beaten a team with a winning record, either.
This game appears like it should be a shootout, but San Diego’s past seven home games have all gone ‘under’. The Mathews injury concerns me, but I think the Bolts HAVE to win or the pressure is really on Turner.
This could jumpstart San Diego's second half, so take San Diego and the over. I would hold off as long as possible before placing the bet because most of the early action is on Green Bay—so the line could rise.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports football picks Web site.