coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
On 09/02/2013 11:58 AM in NFL

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers: Preview and Pick

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers: Preview and Pick

The first week of the National Football League regular season wraps up with a Monday Night Football night cap featuring the Houston Texans and the San Diego Chargers. To kick the season off right the NFL has a double header on Monday Night Football starting with the Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins and ending with the big game in San Diego.

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers Odds

Since the Houston Texans are a super bowl contender and the San Diego Chargers are being considered a pretender to start the season this line is in favor of the road team. This line opened up with the Texans as (-2.5) point favorites but that line has moved up and now can be found at (-4) at several top rated sportsbooks. This movement is due to the big push against the Chargers and will likely move again since this is a prime time affair for all to see. It is no secret that gamblers love to be on nationally televised football games.

The Chargers start this season without head coach Norv Turner who was fried after years of disappointing as the head coach. Turner has moved on to Cleveland but quarterback Phillip Rivers is left behind to pick up the pieces and attempt to make the Chargers respectable. Rivers will be joined by running back Ryan Matthews in the backfield as they attempt to put up big points, but they will have a tough task in week one against a tough Texans defense.

J.J. Watt leads the way for the Texans on defense and has made a living by terrorizing the quarterback. He will be joined by a healthy Brian Cushing at linebacker and veteran Ed Reed who will bolster the secondary. The strength of this team however is the offense.

Quarterback Matt Schaub will lead an offense that has a two headed monster at running back in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Wide out Andre Johnson will also open up the field with deep patterns and this offense will be tough to stop.

The NFL betting trends for this game are predictable. The Chargers are 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last 5 games in Week 1, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on grass, and 0-4 ATS in the last four home games. The Texans are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in September and 20-5-2 ATS in their last 27 games on grass.

It will be interesting to see how these two teams match up to start the season.

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/03/2013 02:34 PM

The San Diego Chargers are a team in transition right now as Norv Turner has departed to Cleveland, and taking his place at the helm is Mike McCoy. McCoy is famous for his offensive talents, transforming the Broncos offense to a running powerhouse with Tebow under center, while earlier in his career coaching Kyle Orton to career numbers in nearly every major category. The Chargers were able to get McCoy from Denver, and it will be fun to watch McCoy work with Phillip Rivers. Rivers reportedly liked Turner, and even though the two didn’t see eye to eye all the time, the duo did put up some nice offensive numbers.

The Chargers however aren’t as loaded as they once were. Vincent Jackson is now with the Bucs, and while there is still some talent at the wideout position for the Chargers, Jackson has been missed. Gates is one of the best tight ends to ever play the game, but he is aging and has been plagued with injuries the past few seasons. The ground game was stagnant last season, but Ryan Mathews had a solid preseason, and reports out of San Diego are that he is running, and feeling better than he ever has. We will see. The Chargers made some noise in the NFL draft this past April, drafting Manti Teo out of Notre Dame. It is still unclear at the time of writing whether or not Teo will be available for their week one meeting with the Texans.

The Houston Texans once again made it to the postseason in 2012, but once again the Texans were unable to advance. The pressure is starting to get on Schaub at quarterback, as well as their head coach Gary Kubiak. The Texans are no doubt a ground and pound team, but if Houston is going to advance further, Houston will need more plays through the air. Andre Johnson is getting older at the wideout position, and to address this the Texans brought in DeAndre Hopkins via the draft. Hopkins has the making of a solid number two receiver outside of Johnson, but time will tell whether or not this strategy pays off.

The Texans rely heavily on their star back Arian Foster, but Foster has been banged up this preseason, and over the past few seasons his production has been on a decline. The Texans have perhaps one of the best number two backs in the league currently in Ben Tate, I guy I believe could start for about half the teams in this league. You can’t talk Texans without mentioning their defense, and you can’t mention their defense without hearing the name J.J. Watt. Watt was voted the NFL’s defensive player of the year, an outstanding achievement for anyone, especially a rookie. Watt leads this defense that was excellent last season. The Texans defensive unit did struggle at times on the road however, giving up just over 23 points per game on the road. A lot of Houston’s struggles started once their linebacker Brian Cushing went down with an injury.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/04/2013 02:29 PM

Even though he signed a six-year contract extension with the Texans on Tuesday, Brian Cushing isn't thinking too far off in the future. “I think the biggest thing for this team is keeping our goals short term," Cushing said. "It’s something that we’ve always done, not setting our sights too far ahead. We always say around here, ‘1-0.’ You can only win the game that’s next and that is San Diego right now.”

The inside linebacker and Houston begin the 2013 on Monday night with a road contest against the Chargers. His mindset and approach with the opener is one of the reasons general manager Rick Smith is excited Cushing is back in the lineup. "Last year is gone," Smith said. "We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got San Diego that we’re focused on. So this year’s team has to develop. It has to come together. It has to define itself. So I’m excited to watch these guys do that.”

Cushing and the Texans have Wednesday off, and begin their game-week practices on Thursday. B
“We’re about one day away still," Cushing said. "But obviously, it’s clearly on our minds. It’s a Monday night game. You can’t start any bigger than that. This is something this organization absolutely wants, to prove what we’re all about on a national stage. We’ll be full-go with San Diego tomorrow and really lock in.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/05/2013 01:34 PM

Could the 2013 San Diego Chargers have the same type of turnaround as the 2011 San Francisco 49ers? Well, it's scary how comparable the two teams are when those points in their respective histories cross.

The New Coach
Jim Harbaugh took over as Head Coach of the 49ers in 2011 after Mike Singletary was let go by the team. He had never been an NFL Head Coach before, and many wondered if his fiery personality would clash with professional athletes.

Mike McCoy took over as Head Coach of the Chargers in 2013, after Norv Turner was let go by the team. He had never been an NFL Head Coach before, and many wonder if the way he has handled the media during his first training camp is a sign that he's not ready for his new job.

The Old Quarterback
Alex Smith was coming off a season in which he led the 49ers to a 3-7 record in 10 starts, throwing 14 touchdown passes while turning the ball over 12 times. He was sacked 2.5 times per game. The media was surprised when new coach John Harbaugh said that he would work with Smith, instead of trying to bring in a QB of his own, in 2011.

Smith finished 2011 with a 13-3 record, scoring 19 touchdowns against just 7 turnovers, despite being sacked 2.75 times per game. His completion percentage jumped three points, and he finished with 800 more passing yards than the year before.

Philip Rivers is coming off a season in which he led the Chargers to a 7-9 record, throwing 26 touchdown passes while turning the ball over 22 times. He was sacked 2.875 times per game. Due to his current contract situation, and his past success, new coach Mike McCoy is tasked with trying to "fix" Rivers in 2013 the same way that Harbaugh "fixed" Smith in 2011.


The Cursed Linebacker
CIN (2002): 2-14
CIN (2003): 8-8

BUF (2006): 7-9
BUF (2007): 7-9

PHI (2007): 8-8
PHI (2008): 9-6-1

SF (2010): 6-10
SF (2011): 13-3

That, right there, is a list of the teams that Takeo Spikes has played on in the NFL. The first year is his last year with the team, and the second year is the team's first year after his departure. Teams seem to (randomly) get better after Spikes is replaced. Spikes was on the Chargers last year, but is currently a free agent.


The Defense
The biggest change that Harbaugh made to the 49ers defense was probably getting rid of Greg Manusky. The Chargers tried to do that same thing last year, but John Pagano was still stuck with the old veteran players that A.J. Smith thought could make the defense run.
•Out goes veteran-who-shouldn't-ever-be-starting safety Atari Bigby, replaced by young-and-exciting Marcus Gilchrist or young-and-exciting Brandon Taylor.
•Out goes veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, replaced by young-and-exciting Manti Te'o.
•Out goes veteran defensive end Vaughn Martin, replaced by young-and-exciting Kendall Reyes.
•Out goes veteran nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, replaced by young-and-exciting Cam Thomas.
•Out goes veteran cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, replaced by young-and-exciting players in Derek Cox and Shareece Wright.

Pagano, who wasn't terrible last year running a defense made of spare parts, seems to finally have a defense (at least at the top level) that is made up of young, exciting talent that fits his defense.

How did the 49ers turn their defense around so drastically from 2010 to 2011 (going from 16th to 2nd in points allowed)? Well....
•Out went shouldn't-ever-be-starting safety Reggie Smith, replaced by young-and-exciting free agent Donte Whitner.
•Out went veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, replaced by young-and-exciting NaVorro Bowman.
•Out went veteran nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, replaced by youngish Ray McDonald. McDonald had been a backup on Singletary's team, but was useful once Isaac Sopoaga was moved over from DE to NT to take Franklin's place.
•Out went veteran cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements, replaced by Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers.

Vic Fangio is now starting to get some depth in San Francisco, but when he arrived in San Francisco he knew the only way the defense could be good was to keep the starters on the field as much as possible. The 49ers almost never subbed in players on defense, and got incredibly lucky with health along the way. The Chargers should adopt this plan in 2013.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/06/2013 01:19 PM

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers didn’t want to place too much emphasis on a Week 1 contest against the Texans. The Chargers will still have at least 15 games to play after their Monday night season-opener and being 0-1 won’t immediately derail their season.

But being 1-0 after downing a much-hyped team that finished 12-4 last season and continues to talk about making its first-ever Super Bowl appearance this year? Rivers acknowledged a win against the visiting Texans would be a long-awaited initial reward for his revamped club.

“It doesn’t make or break your season on Monday night but it’s huge to start off for a win,” Rivers said Wednesday during a media interview. “Every team in the league, you’ve had so much time to prepare for it — there’s so much build up for that first game — that it feels like there’s more significance on it. And it is huge to start off with a win.”

Part of the reason a Chargers victory would feel so big, Rivers said, is because the Texans are considered to clearly be the better team.

“That makes sense, right? It’s 12-4 against 7-9 as far as going back to last year,” he said.

Rivers compared San Diego’s season-opener to a recent college contest between Clemson and Georgia. One team will be 1-0 and another will be 0-1 late Monday. Neither record will matter much by Week 4. But a Chargers home win would be a tough initial setback for the Texans’ Super Bowl hopes.

“I’m definitely not downplaying the significance,” Rivers said. “Every game is huge in this league.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/09/2013 06:59 AM

Pick

When this line came out I thought it was a head scratcher. After all the Chargers are going to be awful right? I know the Texans are traveling to the west coast to play a late game, but they are still much better than the Chargers. Arian Foster is banged up and although I don't like backing a road favorite in a MNF game, I have no choice here as I don't trust teh Bolts.

Picks: Texans -4

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0