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When and where: September 23, 2018, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA, 1:05 PM ET
A showdown in Los Angeles between the Chargers and Rams could potentially be an early preview of Super Bowl LIII. Which team is the best NFL franchise in the great city of Los Angeles? Perhaps we’ll get that answer on Sunday afternoon.
The vaunted Rams defense shutout the Arizona Cardinals in a 34-0 rout in Week 2, and the Chargers are coming off a road win over the Buffalo Bills, 31-20.
Chargers offense a frightening challenge for any defense
If anyone can hang points on the Rams defense, it’ll be the Chargers led by seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers. They are currently the third-best offense in the league with an average of 445 total yards per game.
The only teams ahead of them are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s (or Fitz-magic’s) Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
They’re a versatile offense built to compete through the air and on the ground. Receiver Keenan Allen remains one of the true standout stars in the league, and second-year wideout Mike Williams, the 2017 first-round draft pick, is steadily finding his legs in the offense after missing most of last season. They also have a strong one-two punch coming out of the backfield with running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
The latter actually led the team with 77 rushing yards in their Week 2 win over the Bills. Gordon, on the other hand, was doing what he does best: Dominating in the red zone and scoring touchdowns. He finished with two receiving and one rushing touchdown on the day.
Is the Rams defense the best in the league?
On paper, the Rams have one of the most terrifying defenses we’ve seen in years. If the mere thought of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh playing side by side isn’t scary enough for quarterbacks, they also have to throw against a secondary with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib lurking in the background.
The defense held the Oakland Raiders to only one touchdown in the season opener and then kept the Cardinals offense scoreless the following week. Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford only completed 17 passes for 90 yards and an interception.
We are witnessing dominance at an elite level for a group that could be most responsible for a deep playoff push in January.
- Rams are 1-6 ATS in last 7 Week 3 games
- Rams are 5-11-1 ATS in last 17 games played home
- Rams are 18-37-1 ATS in last 56 games played in September
- Chargers are 13-6 ATS in 19 games on the road against teams with a winning record at home
- Chargers are 15-7-1 ATS in last 23 games on the road
- Under is 10-3 in Chargers last 13 games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s time for a little upset special.
There is no question the Rams have looked sensational in recent weeks, but those wins also came against teams that could finish at or near the bottom of their division by the end of the year. The Chargers will give the Rams their first taste of an elite offense, and they’ll also be able to provide some pressure defensively.
Despite all of the talk surrounding Rivers and the high-powered offense, the Chargers are also currently ranked as a top-10 defense. Sure, quarterback Jared Goff was able to beat up on two of the worst defenses in the league, but it’ll be interesting to see how he responds against a Chargers defense with the pieces up front to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.
Let’s be honest, as great as this Rams team looks on paper, they aren’t running the table in 2018. An early match-up against an explosive offense capable of catching them by surprise has all the makings of a nice cash grab for those bold enough to pick the underdog.
Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers
Full-Game Total Pick
Don’t expect a shootout in this one, particularly with two of the league’s best defenses on the field. I expect more of a low-scoring game with the Chargers barely pulling it out in the end—something along the lines of 20-17. The under is 6-2 in the Rams’ last eight games at home and 6-1 in the Chargers’ last seven on the road.
Prediction: Under (48)
Full-Game Prop Bet
Goff’s first run-in with an elite defense this year won’t go over well for the Rams’ offense. Even without Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa on the field, the Chargers will find a way to generate a consistent pass rush and make life difficult on Goff in the pocket, leading to a sloppy turnover or two. This will be one of the few shootouts the Rams won’t win.
Prediction: Rams (Under 27.5)