Free NFL Game Preview & ATS Pick: Lions vs Chargers

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After surviving Week 1 with an overtime win, the Los Angeles Chargers will travel east for a Week 2 date with the Detroit Lions. The game will get underway at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Ford Field in Detroit. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.

Oddsmakers are listing the Chargers as 2.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is 48 points. Click here for a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.

Chargers vs Lions Vegas Odds & Game Preview

For three quarters in Week 1, the Lions looked poised to win and make a case that many people undervalued them heading into the season. But then the fourth quarter happened. Detroit was out-scored 18-7 by the Cardinals and ultimately settled for a 27-27 tie after both teams kicked a field goal in overtime.

For Matt Patricia and company, it was a golden opportunity that was completely wasted. To make matters worse, Detroit faces a brutal schedule moving forward. After facing the Chargers in Week 2, the Lions are set to play the Eagles, Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings. Even if they Lions show up for four quarters, that’s a tough schedule, practically making this week’s game with the Chargers a must-win for them.

Oddly enough, the Chargers can commiserate with Detroit’s failure to hold a lead. The Chargers led 24-9 midway through the third quarter against the Colts last week and looked poised to cruise to an easy victory. But the Colts scored on one long play and one 16-play drive to tie the game at 24. Fortunately for the Chargers, they got the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown to end the game.

The win was more a sigh of relief than anything else, especially with the favorable schedule that awaits them during the first half of the season. After hitting the road this weekend, the Chargers spend three of the next four weeks at home. They also play just one of their next six games against a team that made the playoffs last year, opening the door for the Chargers to start fast if they can win as road favorites in Detroit this week.

Free Pro Football Pick Against the Spread: Chargers -2.5

To be honest, I almost went with the Lions in this game. After all, they’re at home and had a lot of positives last week. But they have to be a little demoralized after a tie that must have felt like a loss. The Chargers are also the more talented team, so I’ll lean toward Los Angeles to survive by a field goal and cover the spread.

The biggest problem the Chargers had last week was stopping the run. They gave up over 200 yards against the Colts, and even if you take away Marlon Mack’s 63-yard touchdown run, the L.A. defense still allowed over four yards per carry. Stopping the run was a concern heading into the season, and clearly, it remains an issue. If the Chargers can’t get a handle on the opposing team’s running game, the pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa can be neutralized.

The problem is that I’m not sure the Lions can take advantage of that weakness. On paper, the tandem of Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson looks like a productive one, but neither made much of an impact last week. Detroit’s failure to run the ball effectively in the fourth quarter and burn the clock is one of the biggest reasons they lost last week. They have to be better against the Chargers.

If Detroit can get a little balance, they have a rather underrated group of receivers around Matthew Stafford. Danny Amendola has joined Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, while rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson made a huge impact in Week 1. If those four stay healthy, Stafford is going to have some impressive games this season. But the Lions need to be more productive on the ground, and that’s not a bet I’m willing to make right now.

Speaking of being productive on the ground, that’s exactly what Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler was last week. With Melvin Gordon continuing his holdout, Ekeler stepped into his place without skipping a beat. He was productive as both a rusher and receiver. The caveat is that the Chargers need him and Keenan Allen to continue to be as productive as they were last week, as tight end Hunter Henry is out for the next several weeks.

Meanwhile, I can’t ignore how the Detroit defense collapsed in the fourth quarter last week. The Lions looked great early in the game, accumulating five sacks, which could be an issue for the L.A. offensive line, which gave up four sacks last week. But the fourth quarter showed me that Detroit’s defense has some vulnerabilities that a quarterback like Philip Rivers should be able to exploit.

In the end, I can’t trust the Lions to fix their defensive issues or exploit the weaknesses the Chargers have. With Rivers, Ekeler, and Allen, the Chargers should be able to score enough points to give Los Angeles a 3-point win.

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