By Ian Palmer
The Detroit Lions kick of their 2015 NFL season out on the west coast with a showdown against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, September 13. Detroit had a fine season in 2014 and were known as a good defensive unit even though they have several offensive stars on the roster. However, Ndamukong Suh left during the offseason along with a few other defensive players and will now have to rely more on their offense with players such as Joique Bell, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. Meanwhile, Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers will be attempting to prove he’s worth his contract and this should be an intriguing opening week matchup.
Lions vs Chargers – Week 1 NFL Odds
- Bovada lists the Lions +3 at -115 with San Diego -3 at -105 with the over 46 points at -110 and the under 46 pts at -110
Surprisingly, the Lions, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford last season, averaged just 340.8 yards per contests and ranked number 19 in the league in that category. Detroit will be aiming to improve those numbers in the 2015 campaign by taking a more offensive approach. Their offensive line allowed a total of 45 sacks in 2014 and the ran for 88.9 yards an outing to rank 28th in the NFL. The Lions chose offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson with their first-round draft pick and will play him next to Larry Warford and Riley Reiff. This trio should offer better protection for Stafford this year and will test things out in San Diego.
The Chargers’ defense should test the Lions’ offensive line though since most of San Diego’s key players are back with the squad. The Chargers allowed 214.2 passing yards per game last year along with 124.1 yards in rushing. Detroit will be anxious to see how Bell and second-rounder Ameer Abdullah perform in the backfield. Abdullah impressed the coaching staff during the preseason and looks like he’s ready to help out Bell. In 2014, Bell rushed for seven touchdowns and 860 yards to lead the team. With Detroit’s offensive line improving and the San Diego defense about average, Abdullah and Bell could be key performers in this game.
However, Detroit should still be a team that prefers to use the passing game since Stafford has Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate as targets. Johnson caught eight touchdown passes last year and 1,077 yards in total while Tate had four touchdowns to go along with 1,331 yards. Defensively, Detroit will miss Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl player, will try to replace Suh. Detroit was the best team in the league against the run last season by allowing just 69.3 yards against per game. They were 13th in passing defense with 231.6 yards against per outing.
The 33-year-old Rivers was signed to a new four-year contract extension worth $84-million during the offseason and will try to show the team and fans he’s worth it. He passed for 4,286 yards last season along with 31 touchdowns. His receivers will be Malcolm Floyd, Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates. Eddie Royal left the team and he’ll be replaced by Stevie Johnson. But Gates is suspended and will miss San Diego’s first four games. The lead tight end will be Ladarius Green, who gained 226 yards last year on 19 receptions. Allen had six touchdowns and 783 yards and Floyd led the squad with 856 yards along with six touchdowns.
But for Rivers to pick out his receivers, San Diego’s offensive needs to protect him better. In the Chargers’ final game last season he lost 42 yards after being sacked a total of seven times. Rookie running back Melvin Rivers should be able to take some of the pressure off him though. The first-round draft pick was acquired to improve the team’s 30th-ranked running game with just 85.4 yards gained per game in 2014. The Chargers’ defense will need to keep Johnson and Tate in check with Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers covering them, but it looks like Detroit might be too much for San Diego to handle.
Check out all of the Week 1 NFL Matchups from Bovada.