With both teams not playing their starters, some would tell you to lay off this week and wait until the official kickoff next week, but I think there is still value in this game. The NFL odds are a 'Pick 'em', with a total of 38.5, so let’s see where we can find betting value in one of the preseason finales of 2013.
The Niners blasted the Vikings 34-14 in Week 3 of the preseason, and after playing only one series in each of the first two preseason games, Jim Harbaugh let his young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick run around some in Week 3. Kaepernick finished his day going 7/13 with 72 yards and a touchdown. His backup Colt McCoy, who will likely get the start in this game, played okay as well, throwing for 11/15, 109 yards, but he also threw an interception.
The Chargers got the win over the Cardinals, 24-7 in Week 3, handing Bruce Arians and Arizona their first preseason loss. After Phillip Rivers, the reins in that game were handed to Charlie Whitehurst, who was less than stellar throwing 4/10 with 93 yards.
With these two quarterbacks set to face off against one another in this Week 4 exhibition game, I am leaning towards the guy who looked a lot better last week, and that’s McCoy. The Niners are already the deeper team, so playing their 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings during this game will not hurt as mush as it will the Chargers. San Diego is already dealing with some injuries on the offensive side, and their depth has been close to shot, especially at wide receiver. I think the betting odds are undervaluing a Niners offense led by McCoy for a majority of the game.
Jim Harbaugh has a nice start to his preseason-coaching career. Now almost through his third preseason as Niners head coach, Harbaugh is 7-4 SU, and he is 2-0 SU during Week 4. Even with this game meaning nothing in terms of standings, something tells me a great motivator like Harbaugh is going to be able to get his young undrafted guys to play hard and to win in this game.
Mike McCoy cannot afford any more injuries on offense, and something tells me he might not even leave his 2nd string offense in the game very long. I think the likelihood of seeing the roster fringe guys early is high for San Diego, so keep that in mind when making your sports picks.
The Sharp Pick
After their nice win in Week 3, I see the Chargers not putting much effort in trying to win this game against the Niners. They should be pretty satisfied with their win last week, and heading into the first week of the regular season, this week will be nothing more than a formality for San Diego. On the other side, the Niners will likely have a much tougher time trying to cut their final roster, and this game is very important to them from an evaluation standpoint, as it is for most teams. It is for that and the other above listed reasons why I am adding the 49ers to my NFL picks for Thursday.
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