The LA Chargers travel coast to coast to play Tom Brady and the Bucs after dropping to 1-2 following a tough loss to the Panthers last week. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is coming off back-to-back wins and enjoying a 2-1 record after making short work of the Broncos in Denver last week.
Both teams have looked fairly decent this year and have plenty of potent weapons on offense and defense. However, both teams are suffering from significant injuries with the Bucs missing their top receiver, and LA’s starting quarterback remains sidelined.
Now let’s look at the betting strategies for both teams heading into this game, starting with LA.
Trust the Defense and Herbert Staying Hot
Justin Herbert has come off of back to back 300+ yard games behind a shaky offensive line and has kept games close in both of their losses. The Chargers defense has also played very well this year and has been the only team to slow the unstoppable Chiefs offense.
So, holding a Chris Godwin-less Bucs shouldn’t be too difficult of a task, as long as they can put pressure on Brady and put together long drives on the other side of the ball.
Running back Austin Ekler has had a solid year this year, and getting him going will open up the passing game for Herbert. Both teams will likely be in the low 20s if the Chargers win this game, and despite traveling across the country, I believe they have a chance to win this.
Dominate on Defense and Ride the Hot Streak
Tampa Bay’s last two wins have come off of pretty soft teams, but a win is a win, and the Bucs are coming home hot. Their top WR, Chris Godwin, is still sidelined, and Rob Gronkowski has been nothing short of a complete dud this year, so Brady will have a tough time finding his best target, Mike Evans, against a crisp Chargers secondary.
The Bucs pass rush has been great this year, combining for 11 sacks and forcing four interceptions this season. They will be going up against a banged-up Chargers offensive-line plus a backup QB is a recipe for havoc on defense.
I don’t see the Bucs moving the ball too well with only one good WR to throw to and a fairly lackluster o-line themselves, but they have the advantage on defense and can easily win by forcing a couple of turnovers. I think Tom Brady’s Bucs can win this game with less than 25 points, and by all means, should win this game at home and move along to a solid 3-1 to start the season.
Betting Prediction – Chargers at Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is favored by seven points in this game, and the over/under total is at a small 42.5. I think seven points is a bit much in this defensive battle, and the Chargers have a tendency to play up to their competition and keep games close. So I’ll be taking the Chargers to lose but beat the spread in a close game that goes down to the 4th quarter.
As for the over/under, I am feeling the under in this one. Both offenses are banged up, and this game is making up to be a field goal game where one team will score less than 20 this game. I’ll be watching this game, and I don’t think I will sweat this bet even once, as this will be a close one up to the very end.
I’m predicting a classic Brady 4th quarter drive to win the game, and the final score will be: Chargers – 16 Bucs – 21.
The Pick: Chargers (+7)