The Los Angeles Chargers are a very good football team. Even in the absence of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams for parts of the season, the downfall of JC Jackson, and the abysmal play of Jerry Tiller on the D-line — thankfully he just got waived — the Chargers have played their way to a 5-3 record and are very much in the thick of a division title at the halfway point of the season.
This weekend, the Bolts play the San Francisco 49ers in SoCal in what looks like an entertaining matchup between two low-end Super Bowl contenders. In reality, though, San Francisco should absolutely wipe the floor with L.A. Not because the Chargers’ record is better than their actual performance, but rather because the 49ers match up phenomenally well.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the factor everyone is talking about — the Chargers’ run defense. It’s no secret that Los Angeles does about as well at stopping the run as the NFL does at enforcing roughing the passer. The offseason addition of Khalil Mack was supposed to mitigate this problem, since Mack had been one of the best edge defenders against the run for many years. He’s been good, but the rest of the D-line has been underperforming, and those struggles have been amplified with the absence of All-Pro pass rusher Joey Bosa. The Chargers are allowing the most yards per rush of any team in the NFL (5.7). They’re second in the NFL in EPA allowed per rush play as well, only ahead of the Cleveland Browns in that department.
Now, the Niners haven’t been an elite rushing team this year. In fact, they’ve been below average in terms of both EPA and total yards, but make no mistake, the 49ers’ identity is as a run-heavy team, and with Christian McCaffrey suiting up for his third game with the team, San Fran’s rushing attack could be too much for the Chargers to handle, even with the absence of left tackle Trent Williams.
Now, the 49ers’ secondary is a little suspect. While many of the Niners’ faithful were expecting cornerback Jason Verrett to return soon, he instead suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in practice this week. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert should have an easy time dissecting that banged-up secondary, but with both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams missing this game, it could come down to Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter, and Gerald Everett to carry the L.A. passing attack. I don’t trust any of them to do serious damage.
The Chargers’ rushing attack hasn’t been any better. While Austin Ekeler is one of the best backs in the league, he hasn’t been very efficient as a ball carrier. Rather, he’s done most of his damage through the air. That said, San Fran linebacker Fred Warner is one of the best in the NFL at following the ball out of the backfield and making open-field tackles. Ekeler could be in for heavy usage this game, but I wouldn’t expect him to get very far very often. Could he break one or two plays for large gains/touchdowns? Sure, but the 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL at defending plays out of the backfield.
According to OddsChecker US, bettors disagree with my sentiment. Despite the betting line shifting in the 49ers’ favor over the course of the week — from +5.5 at opening to +7 today — 65 percent of moneyline bets have gone in favor of Los Angeles. This is the first time since Week 3 of 2021 against Kansas City that the Chargers have been a touchdown underdog or worse. Perhaps that solid track record is what is pushing bettors toward the Bolts. Or perhaps it’s the Chargers’ dominance over the 49ers in the 21st century. L.A. has won four of its last five against San Francisco. Still, past results do not indicate future outcomes. Brandon Staley wasn’t even the Chargers’ head coach the last time these two teams played.
With an emphasis on short passes, power runs, and efficiency out of the backfield, the 49ers are arguably the worst team the Chargers could face all year. Could they win? Absolutely. This is the NFL, and anyone can win on any given day. Also, I’m never going to be 100 percent sure of a bet against Justin Herbert, but by every measure imaginable, San Fran should win this game. While bettors seem sure that seven points are too many for the Chargers to lose by, I almost believe a double-digit loss isn’t out of the question. Then again, the 49ers have a knack for losing games they shouldn’t — just ask the Bears and Falcons — so maybe I’m reading too much into this. I doubt it though.
Arsenal FC XI vs Lyon: Predicted lineup, confirmed team news and injury latest for Dubai Super Cup friendly
A handful of players remain unavailable while continuing on their path to World Cup glory in Qatar, such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.
Furthermore, those knocked out of the tournament will not feature with Takehiro Tomiyasu in particular asking for a break from football following Japan’s heartbreak against Croatia in the last-16.
Granit Xhaka flew straight from Qatar to Arsenal’s camp acoss the desert but is highly unlikely to feaure against Lyon.
Arsenal await their return with a mid-season trip to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp and this, the first of three friendlies.
Already, the Gunners have played a behind-closed-doors match with Watford that could shed some light on Arteta’s approach to this week’s games.
Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Magalhaes and Eddie Nketiah all started the 4-2 defeat before a team of academy players entered the fray after the break.
This included Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Ethan Nwaneri and Lino Sousa. Given the youngsters conceded three goals without reply against Watford, they are likely to again have to settle for substitute appearances in the Lyon friendly.
Predicted Arsenal XI: Hein; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Elneny, Lokonga, Odegaard; Nelson, Nketiah, Marquinhos.
Hansi Flick to remain Germany manager despite World Cup group-stage exit | Football News
Hansi Flick will remain as Germany coach despite the four-time World Cup winners exiting this year’s tournament in the group stages.
He will remain in charge of the country until at least Euro 2024, at the end of his existing contract.
Flick only took charge of the national team last year, on the back of leading Bayern Munich to the Champions League and two Bundesliga titles in as many years.
He succeeded Joachim Low, who led Germany to the World Cup in 2014, before a shock group-stage exit in 2018 and a last-16 defeat by England at Euro 2020 last year.
Under Flick, they were unable to reach the knockouts for a second straight World Cup thanks in large part to a 2-1 defeat by Japan, with a draw against Spain and victory over Costa Rica insufficient to send them through.
Speaking after that surprise elimination, Flick said: “If you know me and my team, I know we can get up quickly and recover from that. Now we need to assess our work during the World Cup and head in a different direction. This is the next step we are going to undertake and we will do that very soon.
“For the future of German football, we need to train differently. We will work on a future that is very important and very decisive, and we will see how we can implement our idea.
“For years we’ve been talking about new goalkeepers and wingbacks, but what was always good was that we defended well. We need the basics to be right.”
The ManningCast revolution should not have been televised
It would be interesting to see how much ESPN was responsible for of the $1.5 billion that Disney lost last quarter in the streaming section. What section of the Mothership do the contracts for Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and the Mannings fall under? After a year-plus, the nuance of the ManningCast has worn off. It Isn’t leading podcasts, and it’s easier to skip the second screen and just watch the easily digestible clips that ESPN uploads on the app while the game is going.
For whatever reason, Monday Night Football is just another primetime game, and it doesn’t have the luxury of being able to flex out games like Steelers-Colts or even the Bucs-Saints contest that was unwatchable for three-plus quarters. There’s an argument, and a pretty compelling one, that Buck and Aikman’s Fox Game of the Week slot was better than ESPN’s Monday showcase. There’s no doubt Sunday Night Football is preferable due to the pliability of the schedule.
I don’t care how charming Peyton and Eli are, if the teams on the field don’t matter, the audience will find something else to do on the trillions of streaming options. The ManningCast spinoffs suffer for the same reason that no NBA studio show can replicate Inside the NBA. Charles Barkley’s charisma cannot be duplicated just like the chemistry and repartee between two Super Bowl-winning brothers can’t be recreated.
Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay calling a game is an actual nightmare of Red Sox fans and the hoards of people who hate the Yankees and/or A-Rod, of which there are many. Pat McAfee used his connections with Peyton and Omaha Productions to develop a simulcast for college football, which is never going to work no matter how much he grows on you.
Baseball, basketball, and even college football don’t have a weekly monopoly of viewers. There’s always another game to flip to in the NBA and MLB, so the alternative to a shitty national broadcast game is a different matchup. The Association slashed their League Pass prices this year, and it’s never been easier to find illegal streams.
Primetime NFL games are routinely atop the ratings because they have the night to themselves, and half the reason viewers switch to ESPN 2 is because the game is an abomination. When a hyped Saturday showcase fizzles out, there are a million other options to watch, and none of them are McAfee screaming through a blowout. I can’t imagine that it’s worthy of a four-hour chunk of ESPN 2’s college football Saturday.
The ManningCast ratings are whatever and have plateaued during the second season. But, yes, let’s dedicate a production team and everything else that goes into it for a little over a million viewers on a channel that’s in direct competition with the one we want everybody watching.
I don’t see how a ManningCast on Sunday night would benefit NBC because they shut down their nationally dedicated sports network, and it would run on USA or Peacock. I guess Amazon could try something on Thursdays, but they have an even shittier schedule, and people have a hard enough time remembering the game is on Prime — or that it’s even on at all.
The worst attempts are cheap knockoffs, with outlets throwing talking heads in front of a camera and having them regurgitate the same takes they’ve been spewing all week. Fucking hell, I can’t watch the pregame as it is, and now I’m supposed to spend an extra three hours with some I can’t stand for a half hour? Absolutely not.
It’s really hard to be engaging for long stretches on a PG-13 restriction. That’s why I wait for the perfectly cut clips of Peyton and Eli. The show doesn’t work for a full four wuarters, and a bad game bogs down the show like a bad host makes for a clunky SNL. The Manning bros are more or less live-streaming a football game interspersed with big-name guests that normal sportscasters can’t book.
It’s successful because of the two hosts. You know what I’d also watch those two lovable idiots do? Play charades like in the Caesars commercial. The way Eli delivers, “It’s 27 words” is hilarious, and Peyton telling his teammate to “Stop guessing helmet catch” is incredible. Who knows if they’d work in a studio setting just because most of what they do best is a product of filling time. The lasting moments from Inside the NBA come when Chuck, Shaq, and Kenny go off the rails after a long night in Studio J.
Now that we’ve arrived at the juncture where I’m repeating previously stated points, I’ll finish with this. The ManningCast didn’t revolutionize sports programming. Certain athletes are better at broadcasting than others, and they’re afforded a format that’s not replicable in any other sport, not even its amateur version. They’ve been remarkable in an opportunity that’s possible for 0.000000001 percent of sportscasters.
Kudos. Congrats. It worked for a company that lost a billion five in a quarter and hasn’t been able to duplicate it. You want to revolutionize sports media? Create whatever comes after Twitter.
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