San Diego Chargers (4-3) at Washington Redskins (2-5)
One of the most powerful trends in the NFL says that road favorites dominate off of a bye, going 45-18 ATS since 2002. It makes sense. Road favorites are significantly superior teams and significantly superior teams tend to use the extra week very well and dominate their inferior opponent. The Chargers are road favorites in some places, but only of a point and they are also pick em elsewhere and 1 point underdogs in other places, so it’s not clear cut.
I do think they deserve to be road favorites though. They may just be 4-3, but they are better than their record. They are a few plays away from 6-1 and they are 3-1 in games decided by more than a touchdown, as opposed to 1-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. They are winning despite getting killed in turnovers, -6, as a result of a league worst 15.4% fumble recovery rate. That won’t continue going forward.
Their offense has been incredible as Philip Rivers is playing at a borderline MVP level with a marginal at best offensive supporting cast. He’s been rejuvenated with new Head Coach Mike McCoy. He is completing 73.9% of his passes for an average of 8.6 yards per attempt, 15 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions and ProFootballFocus grades him as the #2 passing quarterback behind Peyton Manning. He is leading this offense to an 83% rate of moving the chains, which is incredible, only behind Denver.
They have plenty of problems on their skeleton crew defense, which is allowing opponents to move the chains at a 79% rate, good for a differential that is 9th best in the NFL. The Redskins, meanwhile, sit at 23rd, moving the chains at a 75% rate, as opposed to 77% for their opponents. The Chargers deserve to be road favorites by at least a couple points here and, coming out of a bye, they have a very good chance of winning in a shootout, against a very even line.
There are two reasons why this isn’t a big play though. One is that they aren’t really true road favorites. The other is they could be much more distracted than Washington with a home game against Denver on deck. The Redskins, meanwhile, go to Minnesota next week so they don’t have any distractions. Again, I know they aren’t true road favorites, but for reference, non-divisional road favorites are 17-29 ATS since 1989 before being divisional home favorites, including 2-9 ATS when their opponent will next be non-road favorites. Favorites in general are 45-80 ATS before being dogs when their opponent will next be favorites since 2010. I like San Diego to win a shootout, but I’m not confident.
San Diego Chargers 34 Washington Redskins 30
Pick against spread: San Diego PK