San Diego-Indianapolis Divisional Betting Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 01/10/2008
Do you trust Norv Turner?
Would you trust him with your dog? How about your child? How about this: if you gave him a $20 bill and sent him to the store for a 12-pack would you trust him not to bring you back a pack of wine coolers and pocket your change?
I know what my answer is. And if I don't trust him no to screw up a beer run there's no way I trust him to get the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson 35 times and I don't trust him to guide his team to a win on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions. And when it comes to the playoffs, if you don't believe that an underdog can win a game outright you simply cannot take the points.
San Diego will head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts as an 8.5-point dog in their NFL Divisional Round playoff game at 1 p.m., on Sunday in the RCA Dome. The total opened at 48 but has been bet down to 45.5.
This game is rematch of a regular season game that the Chargers pocketed 23-21 when Adam Vinatieri duffed a chip-shot field goal that would have earned a win for the Colts. This game came on the road one week after Indianapolis was stunned by New England at home and was precipitated by a kick return touchdown by San Diego's Darren Sproles and six - that's right: SIX - interceptions by Manning.
So it basically took an Act of God for the Chargers to pilfer a victory when the two met earlier this year. Throw in the fact that Antonio Gates is out and that San Diego struggled to put away a Tennessee team was held together by chicken wire last week at Qualcomm Stadium and this one has all the makings for a Colts romp.
Yet, while I freely admit that the thought of backing Norv and Phil Rivers on the road is as enjoyable as hooking my scrotum up to the car battery of an 18-wheeler, I will say that most of the matchup trends and recent series history all support the Chargers. Yeah, I didn't believe it either. But San Diego has covered three straight in this series dating back to 2004 and are 6-2 against the spread against the Colts in the last eight meetings. The Chargers have covered four of five in Indy and the underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four tilts.
But do you trust Norv?
Those series numbers are enough to pique my interest, but there's more. The Chargers are 13-3-1 ATS as an underdog, 10-1 ATS against AFC opponents, and 42-20-2 ATS in their last 64 games overall. Kick in the fact that it's common knowledge to fade the defending Super Bowl champions (which didn't work out so well this year, but…) and this could be considered a sharp play on the puppy.
But do you trust Nov?
Further, San Diego has been a tough team to top over the past four years. They are 47-20 straight up since the start of the 2004 season. Only six of those 20 losses were by more than a touchdown and the average margin of defeat during that span was just 7.3 points. Oh, and two of those "blowout" losses came at the end of 2005 when they had already mailed it in.
Unfortunately, three of those "blowout" losses came this year when their average margin of defeat was two touchdowns. Granted, the Chargers have only lost once in the last two months and have only been rocked by double digits once since Oct. 1. However, their numbers this year when it comes to margin of defeat were nearly triple what they had been over the three previous seasons (five points in prior 15 losses).
Is that the work of Norv?
Another factor to consider here is that there aren't too many folks outside of SoCal that are going to be lining up at the window to back the Chargers. Last week at a party I asked seven guys who they thought would win between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. All seven, without hesitation, said Jacksonville in a rout. And for that reason we were on the Steelers, who came through with the cash. This is a similar situation, where the entire public loves the Colts in this spot and where square money will be pouring it at a 2-to-1-clip by kickoff.
That begs the question: do we dare to be different and back visiting San Diego? Are these Chargers more susceptible to a blowout or will the pedigree of the franchise win out and the recent history of close, competitive losses will lead to them coming in just under the spread? Will the recent history of the series hold and lead to a Chargers cover?
All good questions. But which side you're on in this game really all boils down to just one question.
And I think you know what that is.