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NFL Chargers at Lions

December 24, 2011

Calvin Johnson
Detroit Lions look to beat the Chargers

The San Diego Chargers need to win out to have any hope of making the playoffs – and likely saving the jobs of Coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith – while the Detroit Lions can clinch the franchise’s first playoff spot since 1999 with a victory in one of Saturday’s marquee games.

The Chargers are alive both for the AFC West title and a wild-card spot. The only way the Chargers can win the division is to win their final two games and have Denver lose its final two. The Chargers cannot win the wild card unless the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals each lose at least one of their final two games. Detroit, meanwhile, doesn’t want to push its luck into Week 17 when it visits Lambeau Field, a place it hasn’t won since 1991.

Both of these teams have some momentum, but there is no question the Chargers are playing the best they have all season after dismantling the Ravens on Sunday night. The Chargers have averaged 36.3 points in their three consecutive wins after putting up 21.5 per contest during a six-game losing streak.

Philip Rivers has helped his team outscore the last three opponents 109-38 with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions. Running back Ryan Mathews has also gained 453 of his 1,033 yards over the last four games and reached the end zone three times over the past three.

In dramatic fashion, Matthew Stafford led an exceptional late-game drive to get a Week 15 win in Oakland, so the Lions have some momentum of their own. The Lions pulled off another late rally against the Oakland Raiders, securing a 28-27 victory with a touchdown pass from Stafford to WR Calvin Johnson. Detroit, known for second-half comebacks, scored 14 unanswered points to close the game, including a 98-yard drive that concluded with Johnson’s TD catch with 35 seconds remaining.

Stafford has four comebacks of 13 points or more and is averaging 94 passing yards a game to Calvin Johnson after the Lions drop behind by 13 points or more. Megatron has 81 catches for 1,335 yards and 16 touchdowns, including 214 yards and two touchdowns last week. At 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, he’s near impossible to cover one-on-one. He has 10 TDs in the second half of games and five in the fourth quarter.

In terms of turnover differential, the Lions are an impressive plus-11 while the Chargers are at minus-5, but have gotten dramatically better in this department of late. Neither team has been very good on special teams overall this season, and the Lions have taken an inordinate number of costly penalties.

Detroit is facing the Chargers for the first time since losing 51-14 in San Diego on Dec. 16, 2007. The Lions have dropped six in a row to the Chargers, including home matchups in 1999 and 2003.

SA Take and Free Pick: It seems that the Chargers under Norv Turner just are not going to be able to cut it. This game stands out to us as the most glaring mismatch of the day and we feel that the Lions should be favored by 7. So with that said take the Detroit Lions to win and cover.

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Saturday, December 24th, 2011 NFL Betting 2011

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