The NFL Odds have San Diego as a +7 underdog this weekend in Cincinnati, with a total of 46 ½. I think I have a play on one side of this spread, and it could have some of the better value of the weekend.
These two teams met in San Diego in Week 13, and although the Bengals won 17-10, the game was a solid mathcup. The two teams turned the ball over a combined five times, and defense was the name of the game. They held each other under 355 total yards of offense, and Phillip Rivers had a pretty bad game to his standards.
Long shot repeat?
Last season the #5 seeded Ravens won three straight road games to eventually capture the Super Bowl trophy, and pretty much no one saw them coming. I’m not at all saying that the Chargers could win the Super Bowl at +4000, but I am saying they have a pretty good shot of beating the Bengals outright.
San Diego is not only a good passing offense. Their running game under Ryan Matthews heated up a lot over the final third of the regular season, and their defense, although not great, was playing solidly at the end of the season. San Diego won five of their last six games SU, and their running defense was one of the keys.
If the Bengals can’t get their running game going, that’s a lot of pressure on Andy Dalton. I believe that Rivers can outduel Dalton any day of the week, and with how well the Chargers were playing on defense to finish the season, I think they are very undervalued in this spot, even on the road. The Bengals’ secondary is where you attack them, and I see a lot of passing from Rivers.
Obviously the Bengals went undefeated SU and ATS at home this season, so a win here for SD would be a long shot. However set at +7 by most sportsbooks, the NFL Odds are more than valuable for this Sunday’s game. Although they were undefeated at home, if this game ends up playing like these two team’s first meeting, then +7 is going to be golden. I don’t see any way this game is not close, and I am taking the points.
The Sharp Pick
Not only were the Bengals undefeated at home SU, but they covered every single home game this season as well. This is why I know you have a right to call me a square for this NFL pick, but I think their shiny 8-0 ATS record at home may be the reason the Chargers cover here. I think the books have inflated this line from where it should be because they know they can get people to lay the points.
San Diego was 3-1-1 ATS when road underdogs this season, and even though Rivers has a playoff record of 3-4 SU, Andy Dalton has yet to win a playoff game in his young career, and in those two games, he has played pretty poorly. One could argue that this season he actually has weapons and a defense around him, but still the key to beating the Chargers is going to be Dalton’s arm, and in two playoff games in his career, (both on the road) Dalton has no touchdowns and four interceptions. I am going with the experience and the hotter run game. San Diego should at least keep it close enough to cover.
My Pick: Chargers +7