Although, it may appear like it has been a roller coaster ride for Super Charger fans this season, they have won every game they should have won, and each loss was to a superior team. Or at least in the case of their defeat to the desperate Saints and their high powered offense, which San Diego couldn’t keep up with. Their collapse on Monday Night Football against Peyton Manning, Payton Manning will serve as nothing but additional motivation for the Lightning Bolts to get back above .500 this weekend when the Chargers head into Cleveland. Ryan Matthews has yet to fully emerge as the go to running back he was projected to emerge as over the past few seasons, but this Sunday will be the opportune time to take his game to the next level.
The Cleveland Browns are sitting at 1-6 with the worst record in the NFL,but they are a better team than their record indicates. The Browns have played most teams tough this season, and although the Giants blew open the flood gates in Week 5 the Browns were up early in that contest too. However, with a rookie quarterback there are going to be a lot of ups and downs, and unfortunately there have been injury issues hindering rookie running back Trent Richardson’s first NFL campaign since training camp. The Browns should be competitive enough to keep this game from getting out of hand, but they lack the weapons and talent to win.
The Chargers certainly have their own issues, but perhaps the biggest concern was answered in Week 6, when they went to Antoino Gates early and often in his first relevant game statistically of the season. The Chargers defense isn’t stopping anyone, and their receivers are weak, while Phillip Rivers is falling down quarterback rankings by the week. In fact, I covered a lot of the Chargers concerns when I discussed them and predicted the Broncos to beat them in Week 6 on Monday Night Football. Cleveland’s offense has been a non factor outside of their surge against the Giants, and their win over the Bengals. Short and sweet, they wont be able to keep up with the Chargers this week. With the bye week to prepare and rest, look for Norv Turner and the Chagers to take this game by at least a field goal. The spread opened at -2.5 Chargers, but I cannot see it staying that low very long.
Ryan Mathews’ Doug Martin like performance will be the difference in the Chargers winning by at least 4.
This divisional battle may be a little low on scoring, but it certainly features two teams going in complete opposite directions. Just three weeks ago the Cardinals were sitting atop the NFL with a 4-0 record, but after putting up only 33 points in their last 3 contests, they’ve dropped 3 straight. The Niners on the other hand will benefit from the additional rest and preparation time enabled by their Week 7 Thursday night game. San Francisco is giving up fewer yards per game than any defense in the NFL, and after the Bears performance this past Monday night, look for the Niners to try to one up them, as only Chicago has allowed fewer points this season.
The Cardinals offense was just productive enough early on, but with their top two running backs out, and John Skelton back behind center they have nearly come to a complete halt offensively since their winning streak ended, as mentioned. Larry Fitzgerald will be a threat, but San Francisco gives up the fewest yards per game in the air in the NFL, with the fifth lowest completion rate against. Running backs LaRod Stephens-Howling and Williams Powell aren’t in the class of Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Ahmed Bradshaw who are the only three backs to do any damage against the San Francisco defense this season.
Although Alex Smith has thrown for the most passing yards in each of his past 5 games, he seems to be trending in the wrong direction a little bit. Expect to see Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter exploit the Cardinals run defense that gives up over 120 yards a game and eat the clock with a number of lengthy drives. The Niners have an opportunity to take a 2 game division lead with a win and a Seahawks road loss in Detroit, which should serve as additional motivation for them to show up and handle the Cardinals. The line on this game opened with San Francisco as 4 point favorites and has already jumped to 7 points in a number of places. The Niners can cover a touchdown, but anything more than that is risky for an inter division road game against a far better than average defense.
Halloween is right around the corner, so I’m Gore’y for the Niners by a touchdown.
Don’t look now but Tennessee has back to back wins under Mr. Hasselback and can get themselves into the thick of a play-off battle with a win at home this weekend. Meanwhile, the Colts lose one, win one streak is going 6 games strong heading into the Music City. Both teams pulled out a close game last week as the Titans went into Buffalo and won a shootout, while the Colts sent the Browns home with a 17-13 victory. The Colts’ own a road losing streak dating back to 2010, so clearly there are issues away from home, and against a divisional foe it might be a tough trend to buck.
The Titans have shown an ability to put points on the board this season, but on the contrary they have also been shut down a number of times. There is really no sign of which Titans team you’re going to see, but after Chris Johnson’s first real dominant performance of 2012, look for him to pose a large threat to the Colts susceptible run defense. The Colts are giving up almost as many yards per game on the ground as the Titans are and in case you didn’t know, they are both in bad company at the bottom of the NFL. If the Colts try to cheat at all Hasselback should be able to spread the ball around to some under appreciated talents like Kendall Wright, Jared Cook, his favorite Nate Washington, and it would come as a large surprise if Kenny Britt isn’t more involved this week as well.
As mentioned, the Titans aren’t stopping anyone on defense, and they haven’t all season, in fact per game they are giving up more points than any team in the NFL. However, they’re 2-1 at home and have beat two of last season’s play-off teams. Andrew Luck should be able to lead a few scoring drives and the veteran presence of Reggie Wayne has given him a proven weapon to play pitch and catch with. Further, this will prove to be another close divisional battle, however a complete opposite to the above mentioned low scoring affair in Arizona. Tennessee is getting things rolling offensively, and Chris Johnson should continue his streak of productive games Sunday, and lead the way for a Titans victory by at least a field goal in Nashville.
Tune in to Nashville on Sunday, because the Titans by at least 4 is music to my ears.