Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0-1)
The Chargers are one of the most shorthanded teams in the league right now. Melvin Gordon’s holdout might not affect them if Austin Ekeler keeps playing like he did week 1, but they were already without their top offensive lineman Russell Okung and their top defensive back Derwin James indefinitely due to injury and now they’ll be without talented tight end Hunter Henry, who is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Despite that, the public still seems to see them as a top team, after a 12-win 2018 season (partially due to a 6-1 record in games decided by 8 points or fewer).
They’re favored here on the road in Detroit and, even though this line is only two points, we’re getting great value with the Lions, who are arguably the better team right now, given the Chargers’ injury situation. The Lions are an underrated team whose defense played well down the stretch last season after the addition of Damon Harrison, who they have complemented on the defensive line with off-season acquisitions Mike Daniels and Trey Flowers. Their offense struggled down the stretch last season, but they’re healthier now with Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson back and they added Danny Amendola and TJ Hockenson this off-season to replace Golden Tate as middle of the field targets for Matt Stafford.
The Lions blew a 24-6 4th quarter lead in Arizona last week and ended up tying the Cardinals, but they won the first down rate battle by 4.45%, which was the 9th best margin of the week. The Chargers, meanwhile, pulled out at overtime victory at home over the Colts, but easily could have lost if the Colts hadn’t missed multiple kicks in regulation. At the very worst, these teams are about even, but this line suggests the Chargers are about 5 points better. I like the Lions chances of winning and covering at home a lot.
Detroit Lions 26 Los Angeles Chargers 20 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Detroit +2