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49ers vs Chargers NFL Betting

Both the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers find themselves seriously on the playoff bubble. The 49ers trail the St. Louis Rams by one game in the NFC West; the Chargers trail the Kansas City Chiefs by one game in the AFC West.

The two desperate teams will meet in San Diego for this week’s instalment of Thursday Night Football. Fresh off a 31-0 drubbing of the rival Chiefs, Philip Rivers and the Chargers are 9-point favorites at Sports Interaction and countless other books in this NFL betting matchup.

Sportsbook.ag has the over/under at 45 points but most NFL oddsmakers, including Sports Interaction and others, list it at 44.5 points.

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The big question NFL betting players must answer this week: was San Diego’s win over Kansas City deceiving? It faced a Chiefs team missing Matt Cassel due to an appendectomy. Entering that game, he was one of the league’s hottest quarterbacks and the Chargers were 1-3 in divisional play with a loss to Kansas City already this season. [ Matchup Report and Betting Trends ]

Instead of Cassel, they faced Brodie Croyle, who entered the game with an 0-9 career record as an NFL starter.

Then again, the San Diego Chargers still managed to stymie the NFL’s top rushing attack; they rank fourth in the NFL in run defense (91.6 yards allowed per game) and first in total defense. They also had no problem moving the ball against a solid Kansas City defense.

League MVP candidate Rivers connected with Malcom Floyd on two touchdown passes. So it’s understandable that plenty of bettors will support the Chargers.

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However, despite its 4-9 record against the spread, San Francisco is an improved team of late. Since their dreaded 0-5 start, the Niners are 5-3. Last week, they removed Troy Smith and reinstalled Alex Smith as their starting quarterback against Seattle. He didn’t miss a beat, throwing for 255 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions while immediately re-establishing his big-play rapport with tight end Vernon Davis.

San Fran routed the Seahawks 40-21. Brian Westbrook continues to fill in admirably for the injured Frank Gore; he caught six passes for 87 yards and a score out of the backfield in a vintage effort last week.

Before we get too excited about the 49ers’ offensive upswing, however, we can’t ignore who their recent strong performances came against. They lit up Seattle’s 30th-ranked pass defense. Two weeks prior, they ran wild on Arizona’s 30th-ranked rush defense.

See a trend? It pays to play in the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers may not actually be playing as well offensively as we realize, instead just capitalizing on cushy matchups.

Bettors should consider keeping San Francisco honest this week. Make the 49ers’ NFL odds earn your trust. Pick San Diego this week to cover the 9 points against the spread, as the Chargers’ “D” offers a more legitimate challenge than what San Francisco is used to of late.