Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
8:00 PM EST. The L.A. Chargers may be tough to get used to saying but here they are in Los Angeles and playing at StubHub Stadium for the next three years. Man, there are a lot of moving parts here so let’s get the Saints out of the way first before we discuss the Chargers.
New Orleans is coached by Sean Payton, who has 47 preseason games under his belt and could not care less about this “cash-grab” season. The Saints went 0-4 in the preseason in 2015, 0-4 in 2016 and they are 0-1 this season so let’s make that a nine-game losing streak in the preseason for the Saints. Reports out of practice this week all said that the Saints looked “very sluggish”, which is a reflection of Sean Payton’s disdain for preseason football. The Saints arrived at StubHub Center in Carson California early in the week and the two teams have scrimmaged or played against one another during practice this past week. The Saints will likely play with far less intensity here because their goal is to stay healthy. Marshon Lattimore, the #11 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft returned to full action for the first time in quite a while during the New Orleans Saints’ joint practice sessions with the Chargers and Sean Payton said he anticipates Lattimore receiving his first dose of game action in Sunday’s preseason game. Translation: He’ll be in there for one series and the same can be said for Ryan Ramczyk, the Saints’ second first-round pick from this year’s crop. Payton has nothing to prove or nothing to gain here and will play the league required minimum of first team players. The Chargers focus figures to be much more intense.
San Diego, oops, Los Angeles was whacked last week in their preseason opener at StubHub by the Seattle Seahawks, 48-17. However, that was against Pete Carroll, who treats the preseason like the Super Bowl. Dude loves to win more than any human on Earth and will do whatever it takes to do so regardless of importance. He’ll also run up the score. San Diego’s first unit easily marched down field on their first possession and scored a TD on Seattle’s first unit. Pete Carroll didn’t like that and as soon as San Diego’s first units on offense and defense came out with a 14-10 lead, Carroll went to work with a 24-3 second quarter.
The Chargers are now 0-1 in the preseason. They have a new NFL Head Coach in Anthony Lynn, who Philip Rivers has spent a ton of time with over the off-season going over every detail and player. Lynn joins the Chargers after serving as the Buffalo Bills Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach in 2015-16. Lynn became the interim head coach on December 27, 2016, after Rex Ryan was fired and was also interviewed for the Jets head coaching job after Ryan was fired there. He’s paid his dues and obviously wants to establish himself by winning a couple of games in the preseason before the regular season gets underway. No new coach wants to start his career off with an 0-4 record. Said Lynn, “I want to play smart, physical football. I want to be explosive down the field... We're going to play a little bit faster and see if we can put a little pressure on the defense. Just execute."
There are more dynamics in play here too. This region is not sports hungry. Aside from the Dodgers tearing it up and selling out every game, you have the Rams, the UCLA Bruins and many other outlets that sports fans can spend their entertainment dollar on. The Chargers are competing for that and losing will not do the trick. StubHub Stadium only seats 21,000 fans and speculation is that if they are a weak team, you’ll be able to buy tickets on the StubHub website for 20 cents on the dollar. Winning therefore is crucial or the team will be playing in a small empty stadium and that’s not good for the NFL. Roger Goddell knows it and it would surprise us not if the Chargers got some favorable calls here. After getting whacked by Seattle, losing again to the Saints would not be good for Chargers football in this region. We’re trusting Philip Rivers and Anthony Lynn to get it done here and we’re also trusting Sean Payton to fully cooperate. This game lines up perfectly for the Chargers to win over some fans in this region to get behind their new team and support the process. This is an important game for the Bolts while it means absolutely zilch to the visitor. We’ll play it accordingly.
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L.A. CHARGERS -4 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)