The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 so far this NFL Preseason while the San Diego Chargers are an unbeaten 2-0 heading into this Saturday night NFL Preseason Week 3 dance.
With the Seahawks having some issues on the OL and in trying to sign DB Kam Chancellor—who threatened to holdout the entire season on Monday—is this a good spot to take a chance on QB Philip Rivers in San Diego? Let’s take a closer look at this Preseason game from Southern California, provide a hopefully logical NFL pick and determine who’ll play harder and value the win more, if possible.
Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers [Sunday 00:00] (CBS, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT): The defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks (0-2, 33 PF-36 PA) head down the Pacific coast to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to face the Chargers (2-0, 39 PF-26 PA) on Saturday night in this inter-conference NFL Week 3 preseason game. Oddsmakers have opened up the visiting Seahawks as slight 1-point favorites (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) over the host Chargers here with the Total set at 42 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). On the Money Line, Seattle is a slight -120 NFL odds favorite (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) with San Diego priced at +100, Even money underdogs. When these two teams met last Regular Season in Week 2 here at Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers won (30-21) and covered as 5-point underdogs as San Diego scored in every quarter against the league’s most dominating Defense.
In the Preseason so far, the Seattle Seahawks (12-4 SU in 2014, 394 PF-254 PA) have failed to win a game, yet they have lost by only 2 points (vs. Denver, 22-20) and 1 point (@ Kansas City, 14-13). But the two Preseason L’s are probably the last thing Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and the defending NFC champs are thinking about with S Kam Chancellor holding out in Training Camp and this Preseason and now (Monday) reportedly threatening to sit out the entire season if he doesn’t get a contract and the proper amount of Green Paper he wishes. Chancellor saw teammates Marshawn Lynch (RB) and Richard Sherman (CB) get new deals, and now he wants his and all of this bickering about money has probably hurt Seattle (+450 to win Super Bowl, Sky Bet) some, although the ACL injury to Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson may end up being as valuable to this team as the acquisition of TE Jimmy Graham (Saints). The Seahawks are also reportedly looking at C Samson Satele (Dolphins, 2014), and the 60th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft could join the battle for C between Lemuel Jeanpierre and Drew Nowak—a former DT from Western Michigan. Here against the Chargers, expect starting QB Russell Wilson to likely play all of the 1st and maybe most of the 2nd quarters with backup RJ Archer (9/14, 83 yards vs. Chiefs) possibly playing the entire 2nd Half potentially. Seattle’s 3rd-string QB, Tarvaris Jackson (High Ankle Sprain) is reportedly recovering nicely and should be ready for Week 1 when the Seahawks are at the Edward R. Jones Dome in St. Louis to face the Rams in an NFC West showdown (Seahawks -3½; Total: 43, Pinnacle). So, with Jackson out and Wilson sort of forced to play an entire Half, expect more fine-tuning of his relationship with new TE Jimmy Graham—obtained in a trade for C Max Unger—and much running by RBs not named Marshawn Lynch like Christine Michael, Robert Turbin and Thomas Rawls. In short, safe, tune-up the old car Preseason football played with an emphasis on not getting your prized starting QB (Wilson) or best WR (Doug Baldwin) hurt before the Regular Season starts. Despite not winning yet, Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll will probably be ambivalent again here and the Seahawks Defense will probably be more dominating than the Offense in this one.
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers (9-7 in 2104, 348 PF-348 PA last season) have had a fairly nice Preseason so far, going 2-0 with wins over the Dallas Cowboys (17-7) in Week 1 in San Diego and the Arizona Cardinals (22-19) last Saturday night at the University of Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona where the female coyotes songs all rhyme and are never lip-synched. San Diego (40/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) Head Coach Mike McCoy said late Monday that starting Chargers QB Philip Rivers—who sat out last week in the Cardinals game—will be playing on Saturday along with Rookie RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin, 15th overall pick) and CB Jason Verrett, so, expect a fairly focused game between both sides for at least the 1st Quarter with both Rivers and Wilson behind Center. Bit NFL games (and usually one’s bets) are for all 4 quarters, so what to make of this from a gambling standpoint is the key. And with San Diego’s Defense being surprisingly strong to start the Preseason (7 and 19 points allowed) and Seattle working with only two QBs, this should be a grinder of a game with a total of 4 TDs or less and a bunch of drives ending in FG attempts. San Diego backup QBs Brad Sorensen (13/25, 122 yards vs. Cardinals) and Kellen Clemens (9/15, 88 yards) should again get a bunch of playing time, but not as much now with HC McCoy saying Rivers will be playing. At least the majority of the 1st Half should resemble a real NFL game, save for the cautious play-calling by both Offensive Coordinators. Nobody wants to give anything big away in the Preseason.
Realistic Preseason Expectations
One challenging aspect when handicapping NFL Preseason games is that most teams and Head Coaches don’t really care about winning these games. Getting some practice in against another team, avoiding injuries, assessing new talent, trying new formations and plays and trying to work out all of the kinks all seem more important to the Modern NFL franchise during Preseason than winning a scheduled football game with a point spread on it is. It’s quite simple. There is no Homefield Advantage to be fought for with these games, so a team like the Minnesota Vikings (3-0) with a nice start only gets confidence and temporary Preseason happiness, knowing all the numbers now are moot. And teams like the AFC’s Indianapolis Colts (0-2, 0-2 ATS) and the NFC’s Dallas Cowboys (0-2, 0-2 ATS) make no bones about the fact they care little about winning in the Preseason. This one should really close—just like Seattle’s first two Preseason games—and the Chargers proved they are not scared of this Defense in the Regular Season last year, so expect San Diego to get around 10 points by Halftime. But pride will creep up here and the Seahawks should fight for the win with Wilson, Baldwin and Graham helping as much as possible in the first 30 minutes. After that, expect a scrimmage to basically break out, with little scoring and many players shuffling in and out getting looks while they still can in the 2nd Half. This one should approach the 40-point mark but probably not trickle over unless there is a quick special teams TD and an interception returned for a TD like CB Bobby Wagner did last week against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Picking a side here is just a little bit too hard, with the 1 point (spread) offering little help and the motivation and worth of a Regular Season game missing. This could go either way and would be better for siding with the Home Chargers if backup QB Jackson wasn’t out and Wilson wasn’t thrust into managing a Preseason game, while trying to get used to new TE Graham and others while avoiding an injury... all at the same time. And you thought that your job was rough.
Predicted Final Score: Seattle Seahawks 20 San Diego Chargers 16
NFL Pick: Under 42 -110 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)