The Los Angeles Chargers will be trying to bounce back from a loss last week when they host the lowly Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. Game time is at 4:05 EST on Sunday, November 25, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Fans on the west coast will be able to watch the game on Fox.
The Chargers opened the week as 11.5-point favorites at home. However, that line has since grown to 12 points. The over/under for the game is set at 45 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 12 NFL odds and game previews.
The Chargers saw a six-game winning streak come to an end last week with a 23-22 home loss against the Broncos. Los Angeles led the game 19-7 midway through the 3rd quarter but were outscored 16-3 the rest of the way and lost on a last-second field goal. On the bright side, the Chiefs also lost last week, so with a win over the Cardinals, they can stay within a game of Kansas in the AFC West. Los Angeles also holds a two-game lead over every other contender in the wild-card standings, which is a nice cushion to have this late in the season.
As long as the Chargers keep winning, they’ll secure a playoff spot one way or another. However, they still have road games against the Steelers, Chiefs, and Broncos, as well as home games against the Bengals and Ravens. That’s not an easy schedule, which is why they’re under a little bit of pressure not to let one loss turn into two against a bad Arizona team.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they are also coming off a disappointing loss last week, falling to the Raiders 23-21 on a late field goal. The loss dropped Arizona to 2-8 on the season, with their only two wins coming against the 49ers. On the one hand, the Cardinals are already playing for the future, so it doesn’t matter that much how many more wins they get this season. However, losing still doesn’t feel good, and the Cardinals have a brutal schedule down the stretch with four of their last six games coming on the road.
I’m going to assume that last week’s loss by Los Angeles was an aberration and not the sign of a late-season collapse. It was really just one bad quarter, which is something they could probably survive this week against the Cardinals. Coming off a loss with a tough schedule ahead, the Chargers should be focused on getting back on track, so I’ll swallow the points and look for Los Angeles to cover the 12-point spread, and perhaps do it quite easily.
Philip Rivers threw two costly interceptions last week, which has been a rarity for him this season. More importantly, I don’t think it’s an issue that will repeat itself. The Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the NFL at creating takeaways on defense. Rivers also won’t be facing a defense that sees him frequently and has elite pass rushers as he did against the Broncos last week.
On top of that, the Chargers should be able to lean on their running game a little more this week. It’s worth mentioning that Melvin Gordon is listed as questionable. But backup Austin Ekeler can easily get 15-plus touches without a problem.
Also, the Arizona defense is routinely gashed on the ground, giving up over 140 yards per game on the ground. The Chargers have one of the most balanced attacks in the league, and a team like that could be quite dangerous against Arizona. Remember, the Cardinals couldn’t even stop Oakland’s one-dimensional attack last week.
Meanwhile, the Arizona offense may be an even bigger concern. Even with David Johnson coming on strong following a poor first half of the season, the Cardinals are still unable to score many points. Johnson ran for 137 yards against a bad Raiders defense last week. However, that performance was spoiled by Josh Rosen completing just nine of his 20 passes and throwing three interceptions.
Despite some occasional flashes, Rosen has been inconsistent during his rookie season. If he couldn’t handle Oakland’s defense last week, there’s every chance that he’ll struggle against the Chargers this week. The Chargers have been better than expected on defense this year and finally got Joey Bosa back on the field last week. Rosen’s worst game of the season came when he was constantly harassed by Denver’s pass rush. With Bosa back for the Chargers, it could turn into a similar story this week.
One more thing that gives me confidence in the Chargers is their propensity for starting fast. If Rivers is sharp early and can give Los Angeles a lead, the Cardinals may be forced to abandon the run and rely more on Rosen. That scenario is unlikely to work in Arizona’s favor. I like the Chargers to take an early lead and continue building on it through the game, which makes me confident that they can cover the 12-point spread.