Chargers vs. Rams Preview + Free Pick August 14th, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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LT, Chargers to Ram Chris Long in St.Louis?
The San Diego Chargers (11-5 SU & ATS in 2007 regular season, 1-0 SU & ATS in pre-season) will take to the road on Saturday night when they visit the Edward Jones Dome (artificial turf) to play the St. Louis Rams (3-13 SU, 5-11 ATS in 2007, 0-1 SU & ATS in pre-season) in an NFL exhibition that is set to get underway at 8 PM ET.
BetUS NFL Betting Odds: ST. LOUIS -3, Total 37
NOTABLE STAT: St. Louis was 27th in the NFL in points allowed in 2007 (27.4 ppg)
KEY NFL FOOTBALL BETTING TREND: San Diego has covered its last nine games
In the Top Sportsbooks NFL pre-season football betting odds, the Rams are listed as a three-point favorite, with the total posted at 37 points.
Here are some NFL betting trends as they relate to this matchup (reflecting numbers going into the 2008 season):
* SD has won eight of its last nine games SU
* SD has covered its last nine games
* SD has won four of its last five road games SU
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* SD has covered its last four road games
* STL has lost 13 of its last 16 games SU
* STL has covered two of its last six games
* STL has lost seven of its last eight home games SU
* STL has covered one of its last five home games
* STL has played four of its last six home games OVER the total
* SD has won its last four pre-season games SU
* SD has played six of its last seven pre-season games OVER the total
* STL has lost six of its last eight pre-season games SU
* STL has covered two of its last nine pre-season games
I know these games don’t count in the standings, but one would have to take notice of the way these two teams performed in their respective pre-season openers.
San Diego looks like it is not going to have any problems in backing up LaDanian Tomlinson, despite the loss of Michael Turner, who left via free agency for Atlanta. Jacob Hester, the rookie from LSU, played admirably and scored a touchdown after Dallas fumbled a punt. Mike Tolbert, who is vying for a regular fullback job, scored also, and Tomlinson called him the most impressive player he’s seen in camp. Then, of course, there is Darren Sproles, who has the ability to dazzle, not just running with the ball and catching passes, but returning kicks as well. He is the guy who’ll get more time in plays from scrimmage, and can shine here in the pre-season.
Phillip Rivers played into the second quarter, as if to show no lingering after-effects from his knee injury. And the Chargers’ first-team defense, while it was in the game, got out after the Cowboys.
The Rams, on the other hand, were scattered on offense (with Brock Berlin being a rare bright spot). Marc Bulger turned it over near the goal line. And the defense was atrocious. Chris Long is like a fish out of water in the 4-3 alignment. Chris Johnson of Tennessee beat them on a 66-yard touchdown run, and he wasn’t even the leading rusher for the Titans, who compiled 340 rushing yards in all. That’s right, I said THREE HUNDRED FORTY. And to top things off, they’re now thinning out in the secondary after some injuries.
Perhaps St. Louis isn’t ready quite yet. But the outlook isn’t good. San Diego looked in mid-season form against Dallas; maybe it was just the opponent that got them up for the game, but they can throw some depth out there on offense, even without L.T., who does not play in pre-season games. Remember that Billy Volek is a very capable, professional backup who is not fazed by playing alongside backups.
It could be that the Rams are going to come out and give a maximum effort, if only out of shame. But based on what I’ve seen, I couldn’t lay points with them. We’re on the “take” with the Chargers, the three-point underdogs in the Top Sportsbooks NFL pre-season football betting odds.
JAY’S PLAY: SAN DIEGO +3 ** (Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)
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