Arizona @ LA Chargers
Vegas: LAC -12
DomModel: LAC -18.744
Recommendation: LAC -12
-LT D.J. Humphries (knee) was INACTIVE week 11. He did not practice on Wednesday (11/21) and Thursday (11/22).
-DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf) was INACTIVE weeks 10 and 11. He was limited in practice on Wednesday (11/21) and Thursday (11/22).
-LB Deone Bucannon (chest) was injured week 11. He did not practice on Wednesday (11/21) and Thursday (11/22).
-S Budda Baker (knee) is was INACTIVE week 11. He did not practice on Wednesday (11/21) and was limited in practice on Thursday (11/22).
-K Phil Dawson (right hip) was INACTIVE week 11. He was limited in practice on Wednesday (11/21) and Thursday (11/22).
Los Angeles Chargers:
-DT Corey Liuget (quad) was injured week 11. He is on IR.
-LB Kyzir White (knee) is was INACTIVE weeks 5 – 10. He has been placed on IR.
-LB Denzel Perryman (hamstring/knee) was injured week 11 and is out for the season.
-CB Trevor Williams (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 10 and 11. He was limited in practice on Wednesday (11/21) and practiced in full on Thursday (11/22).
When Arizona has the ball:
The Cardinals offense has:
-An offensive line that is offensively bad (HA!)
-An overmatched rookie QB
-An old man at receiver (Fitzy), a rookie (Christian Kirk), and a TE that ranks 33rd of 39 qualifiers in yards per routes run (Ricky Seals-Jones)
-A freakishly talented dual threat RB that can’t possibly due it all by himself (David Johnson)
They suck. But at least they’re healthy?
Los Angeles’s defense:
The Chargers defense is an interesting one to breakdown. They’ve given up over 20 points just once over their last six games, but their schedule has been laughably easy (Raiders -> Browns -> Titans -> Seahawks -> Raiders -> Broncos). At the beginning of the year they gave up 30+ points twice, but that was to the Rams and Chiefs. Both of those teams have pretty good offenses, in case you haven’t noticed. That, along with their 18th ranked defensive DVOA, would lead most to conclude that their a middle of the pact defense.
Let’s start with their pass rush, which has been nonexistent outside of Melvin Ingram this year, who has been fantastic. Last week the Chargers finally got DE Joey Bosa back, and he’s practicing in full this week. Bosa is an exceptional pass rusher — he ranked 8th in the entire NFL in total pressures last season. He and Ingram make up one of the better pass rushing duos in the NFL.
At corner, the Chargers have primarily rolled out Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams on the outside, with Desmond King in the slot. Hayward was one of the top corners in the league last year. This year he started out poorly, but has played much better as of late. In Hayward’s last 5 games he’s given up just 9 catches, 120 yards, and just 1 touchdown. Williams has missed his last two games and has a chance to return for this one (he’s currently limited in practice). If Williams cannot play, it’ll be second year UDFA Michael Davis. Desmond King, meanwhile, has been one of the better slot corners in the league this year.
Against the run, the Chargers give up a mediocre 4.6 yards per carry and rank equally mediocre in both football outsider’s and PFF’s rankings. To make matters worse, they lost key run stuffer Corey Liuget week 11.
TL;DR Conclusion: The Cardinals stink something awful on offense. While the Chargers haven’t been great defensively, they haven’t had issues stopping low powered offenses and I expect them to improve with Bosa back.
When Los Angeles has the ball:
The Chargers come into Sunday with one of the better offenses in the NFL. Their offensive line has shown weaknesses before, but they have given up the 4th fewest sacks in the league this year. It helps that Philip Rivers averages under 2.5 seconds to throw.
Speaking of Rivers, he’s having another excellent season. He’s completing 67% of his passes with 2,860 yards, 23 TDs, and just 6 INTs. The man has a LOT of kids to feed, and he’s playing well enough to earn every penny of that 4 year, 83.25 million dollar contract.
Rivers has plenty of weapons to throw the ball to: slot man super star Keenan Allen, reliable pass catching back Melvin Gordon, Tyrell “the Gazelle” Williams, and 2017 7th overall pick Mike Williams have been Rivers’s favorite targets this year.
Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler man the carries in the backfield. Going into this year, Gordon had been branded as a volume hog who lacks efficiency. He had never had a season over 4 ypc. This year he’s at 5.2 yards per carry, effectively destroying that narrative.
The Cardinals may suck, but their defense isn’t the issue. Though they don’t generate a ton of pressure outside of Chandler Jones, they cover well with Patrick Peterson typically shadowing the top receiver on the outside, and with Tre Boston anchoring things at safety. They Cardinals rank 5th in defensive DVOA against the pass.
For injuries, they were without #2 corner Budda Baker last week. Baker missed practice Wednesday, then was limited Thursday. That mean’s he’ll likely end up getting slapped with the questionable tag. Baker plays mostly out of the slot — which means lots of Keenan Allen. When Baker is out, it’s typically Bene’ Benwikere (that’s a real name) manning the slot. Benwikere is a 5th year guy already playing for this 3rd team.
Against the run, the Cardinals rank a much more modest 15th in DVOA and give up 4.4 yards per carry.
TL:DR Conclusion: Though the Cardinals are underrated on defense, there isn’t much that can stop the high powered Chargers offense.
We know the Chargers are at home and are a much better team than the Cardinals. Are they most than 12 points better? I have no freakin clue, but the model says so and I trust the model. So there.
That’s it for now, bitches.