Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
The Chargers lost last week at home to the Chiefs, but the Chiefs have always had their number in recent years and the Chargers didn’t really get much benefit from being at home because the crowd was mostly Chiefs fans. This week the Chargers go on the road to a hostile crowd in Buffalo, but they are used to that and they get a much easier opponent on the field. Coming into the season, the Bills were my worst ranked team and they did nothing to change my mind in their week 1 47-3 loss in Baltimore. That loss looks even worse now that the Ravens, who were proclaimed to be one of the top teams in the AFC by some after that win, followed that game up by losing in Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football.
The Bills will make a change under center, benching Nathan Peterman, who completed just 5 of 18 passes last week, for Josh Allen, who came in when the game was well out of hand in the second half last week and also struggled to complete passes (6 of 15). Allen definitely has more upside than Peterman and, given how badly Peterman has looked in his career, it’s hard to see how Allen could have more downside than Peterman, but there’s a reason they started Peterman week 1, as Allen is still incredibly raw. He’ll be an upgrade by default, but he’s unlikely to be this team’s savior right away.
Even if he exceeds expectations, he really lacks talent around him. The Bills made the playoffs last season, but that was despite finishing 31st in first down rate last season, as they went 8-2 in games decided by less than 10 points and had a +9 turnover margin, two stats that are not consistent year-to-year. The Bills also got worse this off-season, particularly on offense, where they lost 3 starters on the offensive line and capable starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was the only reason the Bills were passable offensively last season. Allen would be exceeding expectations by playing as well as him and he would have to do it with a much worse offensive line in front of him.
The Bills are also in a tough spot because they have another tough game on deck, a trip to Minnesota where they are 15.5 point underdogs on the early line. Underdogs of 6+ are 43-62 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs of 6+ again and teams are just 33-53 ATS overall over that same time period before being double digit underdogs. It’s tough for an inferior team to keep up with a superior team when they have another tough game on deck. Unfortunately, we did lose line value with the Chargers when this line shifted from -6 to -7.5 following the Bills’ blowout loss last week. Between that, the uncertainty of how well Josh Allen will actually play in his first start, and the absence of Joey Bosa for the Chargers, I’m not that confident in the Chargers this week, but they should be the right pick.
Los Angeles Chargers 23 Buffalo Bills 13
Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -7.5