Los Angeles Chargers (5-5) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
This game is a tough call. I think both of these teams are overrated and not as good as their record. The Chargers are 5-5, but their five wins have come by a combined 23 points, while their five losses have come by a combined 54 points, giving them a point differential of -31 which ranks 23rd in the NFL. They’re even worse in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 27th, about five points below average, which is more predictive than point differential. They’re getting a little bit healthier with talented wide receiver Keenan Allen returning last week, but they also remains without their other talented wide receiver Mike Williams, stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, expected top cornerback JC Jackson, and stud edge defender Joey Bosa, who would be among their best and most important players if healthy.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are 4-7 with a -56 point differential, fourth worst in the NFL, despite a +3 turnover margin, which is not consistent week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, they rank 25th, about four points below average, and they are even worse in my roster rankings, about 7.5 points below average, as injuries continue to mount, primarily on the offensive line, where they are missing four expected starters. Meanwhile, their defense is also without top cornerback Byron Murphy.
I’m going to take the Chargers in this game for pick ‘em purposes for two reasons. One is that this line favors the Chargers by 2.5 and, while that’s right where I have this line calculated, the single most likely outcome of this game is the Chargers winning by exactly a field goal, as they are the better team and field goals are the most common margin of victory. On top of that, the Chargers tend to be better than expected on the road, as a result of their lack of homefield advantage in Los Angeles, going 27-16 ATS on the road since moving in 2017, as opposed to 17-27 ATS at home. This is a no confidence pick, but the Chargers seem like the better side. I would probably take the Cardinals at +3 though. That’s how close this one is for me.
Los Angeles Chargers 31 Arizona Cardinals 28
Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -2.5