One of the more underrated matchups on the Week 3 NFL schedule features the Houston Texans visiting the Los Angeles Chargers. Game time is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday, September 22 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Most markets that have either AFC South teams or AFC West teams will be able to watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Chargers as 3-point favorites at home with an over/under of 47.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
The Chargers will be a little disappointed with their 1-1 start to the season, especially after going 12-4 last year. L.A. blew a 24-9 lead against the Colts in Week 1, although salvaged things by winning in overtime. The Chargers weren’t as fortunate a week ago in Detroit. Once again, they held a lead in the fourth quarter but let it slip away. Even with over seven minutes left in the game to respond after the Lions took the lead, Philip Rivers and company fell short in a 13-10 loss.
Knowing how difficult it’ll be to keep pace with the Chiefs in the AFC West, the Chargers can’t afford to lose another game this early in the season. The schedule sets up nicely for them with three of their next four games at home. They also don’t play another playoff team from last year after the Texans until Week 8. But the Bolts need to take advantage of that schedule, starting this week.
The Texans, meanwhile, will feel both fortunate and a little upset at being 1-1. Houston thought they had stolen a road win against the Saints in Week 1, only to give up a late field goal in a 30-28 loss. Last week’s game with the Jaguars was equally close. The Texans managed to just barely stop a 2-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game to escape with a 13-12 win.
At 1-1, the Texans can hold at least a share of the AFC South lead if they can beat the Chargers. If not, Houston can take some solace in knowing that two of their division rivals are already 1-2. However, this game is a golden opportunity for the Texans to win a tough road game as underdogs and assert themselves as the team to beat in the AFC South.
Houston’s first two games have been decided by a total of three points, so getting the Texans and three points feels like a good bet. More importantly, the Chargers are kind of a mess right now. With two missed field goals and a bunch of penalties last week, not to mention several key players out or questionable with injuries, it’s hard to trust Los Angeles to cover. I like the Texans to play another close game and possibly eke out a road win.
Admittedly, the Texans have one massive problem, and it’s the offensive line. Deshaun Watson has already been sacked 10 times this season. In fairness, Watson is accustomed to running for his life after Houston’s dismal play on the offensive line last season. But the team’s struggles at the line of scrimmage are clearly getting in the way of what could be an otherwise potent offense.
The silver lining is that Houston’s poor pass protection hasn’t interfered with their ability to run the ball. Watson is obviously helpful in that regard. But even without him, both Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson are averaging over five yards per carry through two games. That could be key against the Chargers, who have been one of the worst teams in the NFL at stopping the run during the first two weeks of the season.
In fairness, Los Angeles has a pass rush that could give the Houston offensive line fits. But if the Texans can run the ball, they may be able to keep the rush off Watson long enough to hit on some big plays down the field. Keep in mind that the Chargers have two safeties on IR, including Derwin James. That could make deep threats like Will Fuller and Kenny Stills a huge problem for the L.A. defense.
The Chargers also have some issues on the offensive side of the ball after scoring just 10 points last week. Rivers has been good and Austin Ekeler is filling in brilliantly for Melvin Gordon. But left tackle Russell Okung is out and center Mike Pouncey is questionable, which could be a problem against J.J. Watt and the Houston pass rush. Also, keep in mind that Keenan Allen is questionable. If he sits, the Chargers could be a little short-handed on offense outside of Rivers and Ekeler this week.
There are simply too many questions about the Chargers this week to make me comfortable eating the points. Houston has a few questions themselves, but the Texans stood tall on defense last week and have good upside on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Texans win, so I have no problem taking them as the underdog on Sunday.