The 5-8 San Francisco 49ers will take a short trip south to face the 7-6 San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium this Thursday December 16th, 2010 for their week 15 matchup.
The Chargers are -8.5 point favorites with a total of 44 going into this one.
Alex Smith threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns in a successful return to the starting lineup after a five-game absence, posting a career best 130.9 QB rating and allowing the 49ers to keep their playoff hopes alive with a 40-21 victory against NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. The 49ers defense caused Matt Hasselbeck to be responsible for five turnovers, including four interceptions, one of them ending in a touchdown by safety Dashon Goldson.
The San Diego Chargers were able to completely dominate Kansas City with a great display of both offense and defense, shutting down the Chiefs 31-0 to stay alive in the playoff hunt. The Chargers’ last home shutout was 26-0 against Indianapolis in 1992.
“Defensively, I’m not sure that you could play any better than that,” said Chargers coach Norv Turner, who gave game balls to the offensive and defensive lines.
A huge part of San Francisco’s defensive success last week was Seattle’s inability to run the ball. Running back Michael Robinson led the Seahawks in rushing and outdid Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, despite the fact that he only rushed three times for 33 yards total. The 49ers currently rank 9th defending against the run, allowing only 100 yards per game and seven touchdowns this season.
San Diego’s 13th ranked rushing attack will represent a bigger challenge for this 49ers run defense this week. They average 113 rushing yards per game and have scored 13 touchdowns on the ground on 2010. This will shift the entire 49ers defensive scheme, having to focus on both aspects of the rival offense, instead of just sitting back and getting interceptions.
A bigger challenge for San Francisco will be to successfully defend against the league’s 2nd ranked Chargers passing attack, which averages 286 yards per game and is tied at 3rd with the Colts in total passing touchdowns with 26. The 49ers rank 20th against the pass, allowing 227 yards per game and 20 touchdowns to opposing receivers this season.
If things don’t look very promising for San Francisco to play good defense and keep the Chargers offense in control, it looks even less promising when it comes to playing good offense and put up points against San Diego.
It is critical not to get misled by Alex Smith’s numbers last week, which he was able to obtain at home against a dreadful Seahawks pass defense that ranks 30th overall. He will now face the best pass defense in the league, on the road. San Diego ranks number one against the pass, allowing only 173 yards per game and just 12 touchdowns this year. The 49ers have been mediocre passing the ball to say the least. Smith has only thrown for 1809 yards, 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, ranking the 49ers 19th overall in this category.
Surely we wonder to what extent will San Francisco’s 18th ranked rushing attack will be successful to run it at the Chargers. San Diego is very strong defending the run as well, since they only allow an average of 91 yards per game to opposing running backs. Only the Steelers, Bears and Jets rank higher than the Bolts in this category.
Let’s take a look at some stats provided by BOOKMAKER.COM
San Francisco is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
San Francisco is 2-11 SU in its last 13 games on the road
San Francisco is 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 6 of San Francisco’s last 8 games when playing San Diego
San Francisco is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing San Diego
San Diego is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of San Diego’s last 5 games at home
San Diego is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 6 of San Diego’s last 8 games when playing San Francisco
San Diego is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games when playing San Francisco
While things do not look very good for San Francisco’s chances to avoid getting completely neutralized on offense and putting up points against San Diego, they also look very bad when it comes to stopping the Chargers’ offense from abusing them. In order to have a chance to win, the 49ers must be productive in offense against the best defense of the league in its own house, and a team that has the strength and skills to beat them up in every aspect of the game. In other words, highly unlikely.
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers
When: Thursday Dec 16th, 2010, 8:20 PM ET
Pick: Chargers -8.5
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