Chargers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler walks off the field following a win over the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler walks off the field following a win over the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 17.
(Jeff Lewis / Associated Press)

The Chargers draw a 10 a.m. PST kickoff in their return from the bye against the first-place Atlanta Falcons. It seems weird to say that, but Atlanta’s offense under head coach Arthur Smith has improved by leaps and bounds this season. The defense has not, but the ongoing Chargers injury issues may limit the team yet again.

Mike Williams remains on the shelf with a high ankle sprain and Keenan Allen suffered a setback during the bye week that will either severely limit him or knock him out of action altogether. Against a Falcons defense that ranks 31st by the popular DVOA metric from Football Outsiders, this was supposed to be a golden opportunity for the offense to get right, but it seems that won’t be the case. Josh Palmer and Donald Parham are also just coming out of concussion protocol.

This would be a great time for Austin Ekeler and the run game to get going, as the Chargers have managed 81 or fewer yards on the ground in seven of their eight games. The outlier against the Browns with 238 yards is still fresh in everybody’s mind, but feels more like a fever dream than a repeatable outcome. Teams that have run the ball effectively have had a lot of success this season with so many defenses playing zone coverage. That is something that Falcons have exploited well, but the Chargers have not.


Chargers (-3, 49.5) at Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta has to be excited about this matchup with a Chargers defense has allowed a league-high 5.7 yards per carry. Further excitement come in the form of the possible return of Cordarrelle Patterson, who had four 100-yard games prior to going on injured reserve with a knee injury. He’ll might be back this week alongside Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley and a mobile quarterback in Marcus Mariota that has been much better than expected. Even if he isn’t, the Falcons have soldiered on without him for four weeks now.

To me, there are two ways to look at this game. One is the over, which is pretty reasonable at either 49 or 49.5. These are two bad defenses. The Chargers passing game against a terrible Falcons pass defense and the Falcons rushing attack against an awful Chargers run defense should be a good recipe for points. Herbert has also had some time to get closer to 100% after the rib injury, but who will he be able to pass the ball to on Sunday?

The other is to look at the Falcons. The losses of Williams and potentially Allen are huge. The Chargers are a one-dimensional offense because they have no running game to speak of and their two best receiving threats are likely to miss the game. There were some +3.5s popping in some places prior to Allen’s admission that his hamstring is not where it needs to be. I’m genuinely amazed the line is still 3.

Pick: Falcons +3

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Aug. 14, 2022