Los Angeles Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons (11/6 @ 1:00 PM EST)
Spread: Chargers -3
Money Line: Chargers -160 / Falcons +135
Overview and Betting Info
The Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) will head to Atlanta on Sunday to take on the Falcons (4-4). The Falcons currently sit atop the NFC South, while the Chargers are just one game back in the AFC West. LA has won their previous two matchups but leads the overall series 8-3.
The Chargers are 4-3 overall and 3-0 at home versus the spread this season. They’ve failed to cover in their previous two games. LA has hit the over in four of their last five games.
The Falcons are an impressive 6-2 versus the spread, including going 6-1 as the underdog. They also failed to cover in their previous two games. They have gone under the point total three times in their last five games, but they’ve gone over the previous two weeks.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert again leads this offense, but he’s struggled. Mike Williams (out) and Keenan Allen (questionable) are hurt, but he’ll get one receiver back this weekend in Joshua Palmer. The receiver has just 240 yards and one touchdown, but he’s shown potential and could be in for a big night against a bad secondary. Look for Herbert to look toward tight end Gerald Everett and receiver DeAndre Carter as well.
The Chargers once again have the electric Austin Ekeler leading their backfield. He’s been quiet on the ground (380 rushing yards), but he’s been active in the passing game (Team-high 53 receptions for 357 yards). He’s been a scoring machine with eight combined touchdowns in his last four games. Despite this, the Chargers still own a bottom-five rushing offense that’s managing just 88 yards per game. If Allen can’t go tonight, look for the Falcons to be able to key in ok Ekeler and force the Chargers to find another playmaker in the red zone.
Like the offense, the defense has been dealing with injuries. The most notable are Joey Bosa and JC Jackson, who will be out Sunday. It’s led the defense to struggle, highlighted by the run defense giving up the league’s fourth-most yards and second-most points. This is despite another great season from Kahlil Mack, who is 7th in the NFL with six sacks. Their pass defense has had more success, thanks to playmakers Derwin James (Team-high 63 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 PD), Asante Samuel Jr. (7 PDs, 1 INT), and Bryce Callahan (5 PD, 2 INT). The secondary should be able to handle Mariota, so the key Sunday will be how their porous run defense holds up against one of the better running teams in the league.
The Falcons have surprised many people this season and now find themselves atop their division. A big reason for their success was newly acquired quarterback Marcus Mariota. His resurgence has led to ten touchdowns through the air and three more on the ground. The quarterback is getting better as he settles in, completing 74% of passes for six touchdowns over his last three games. He’s helped by a talented receiving core. Rookie Drake London burst onto the scene early, but he’s been the focus of opposing defenses and has struggled to get catches (40 or fewer yards in the previous five games). London may have more room to work as second-year tight end Kyle Pitts sees more targets after a slow start. Keep an eye on speedster Damiere Byrd, as he has 142 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games.
The run game has succeeded even with lead running back Cordarrelle Patterson out. The receiver-turned-running back may make his return Sunday (questionable), but if he can’t, the Falcons will roll again with Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley. The duo has combined with Mariota to keep Atlanta’s deadly run game going, and it should be on full display against a bad Chargers defense on Sunday.
On defense, Atlanta is coming off back-to-back games where they’ve given up 35+ points. The run defense has been spectacular, allowing just 108 yards per game. The secondary has been their weakness, giving up an average of 318 yards per game. They could be in luck with safety Jaylin Hawkins and cornerback A.J. Terrell possibly returning from injury. They could also get a break if Keenan Allen can’t go, meaning Herbert’s top two weapons will be out.
Free Pick: Falcons +3
We’ll take the three points as we see a close game, but we ultimately believe the Atlanta run game will prove too much for the Chargers. LA will need to bring in extra linebackers, which could help free up room for London and Pitts to do some damage. We like Herbert, but with Williams out and Allen ailing, it’s going to be tough to capitalize on a weak Falcons secondary.
One other reason is LA’s kicking game. They too have suffered from injuries, and starter Dustin Hopkins will again be out this week. His backup, Taylor Berolet, was set to fill in but picked up an injury in practice. The Bolts will rely on practice-squad signee Cameron Dicker if he’s out. A kicker can make or break a close game, which we expect this to be. We’re taking the points to roll with the Falcons +3 at home.