Chargers' late-season rep worth a bet 

December, 22, 2011

As we get older, we are supposed to get wiser. And no, I'm not waxing poetic just because today's my birthday. I'm referring to the San Diego Chargers' yearly season script. It's fairly rudimentary, but exceptionally frustrating for Chargers fans: fall into an early season hole, put together a winning streak, inspire hope while looking like a Super Bowl contender in December and then choke in the playoffs -- or miss them entirely.

Last year the Chargers dug too big a hole at 2-5 to crawl out of, but how is it possible that a team with so much talent (even after losing the invaluable Darren Sproles in free agency) is only 7-7 this season? And more importantly, how do the Chargers follow the same mind-numbing pattern year after year?

I don't think I can answer that one in a book, much less 500 words, so let's look ahead to their game this week against the Detroit Lions. The Chargers appear to have gotten their choking out of the way already (Week 7 at Jets, Week 8 at Chiefs, Week 12 vs. Broncos) and seem well into their "late-season push" phase.

They have risen in both the standings and the NFL Sweat Barometer (data provided by Sal Selvaggio of the last three weeks, riding a three-game winning streak and improving from 25th and an SB number of minus-4.45 to 12th with a number of 1.35.

Perhaps more impressive is the way the Chargers have been eviscerating opponents, covering their last three games by an average of 20.66 points, including a 24-14 beating of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night to raise their ATS record to a closer-to-respectable 5-9.

Meanwhile, the Lions are 2-2 SU in their last four (with both wins secured in the final seconds) but 0-4 ATS with an SB number of minus-1.75. They need a win to clinch a playoff berth, while the Chargers need a win to keep the postseason dream alive. This line opened at Lions minus-3 at the Hilton and was quickly bet down to minus-2.5, where it stands -- likely due, in part, to the public backing San Diego at a 72 percent clip.

How is one Vegas wiseguy seeing things?

Ben Fawkes

ESPN Staff Writer