SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 3: Quarterback Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers celebrates a Charger touchdown play against the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 3 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers won 41-10. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Three key players are questionable but the line is moving in favor of the home team. Atlanta has not performed well as a road underdog lately and the line has moved to -3 for San Diego.
The Chargers opened as 1.5-point home favorites, according to the Week 3 NFL odds menu at OddsShark.com, against a team they have not beaten in five tries since 1991. But that number had been bet up to -3 by Friday.
"There was some hesitation around moving the line on this game, because of the uncertain status of Antonio Gates, Michael Turner and Ryan Mathews," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com, the NFL lines provider to SBNation.
The Falcons play on a short week after defeating Denver Monday night, and they have struggled in the role as road underdog, failing to cover in four of their past five games in this situation.
Atlanta turned a lot of heads with its performance against the Denver Broncos last Monday night. The defense looked sharp in forcing Peyton Manning into three first-quarter interceptions, and the offense capitalized to give Atlanta an early 20-0 lead.
With Matt Ryan leading a talented stable of wide receivers, the sky appears to be the limit for this passing game. If the defense continues to play well, the Falcons should keep improving on their 2-0 SU and ATS start.
Sunday's game will be a great test for the Chargers. Off to a 2-0 SU and ATS start with wins over Oakland and Tennessee, Philip Rivers and the Chargers have played well, but the competition hasn't exactly been very difficult.
Perennial slow starters under head coach Norv Turner, the Chargers would love to put that label behind them and establish themselves as legitimate playoff contenders with a win over Atlanta this week.
The first half will play a key role in the outcome of Sunday's game. Through two games this season, the Chargers defense hasn't given up a touchdown in the first half, allowing just 6 first-half points against Oakland and 3 against Tennessee.
Atlanta has scored two touchdowns and 20 points in the first half of each of its first two games. Something has to give.
Neither team has given many reasons to pick against them, but Atlanta's resume thus far is a bit more impressive with the win over Peyton's Broncos. And when you factor in San Diego's history of slow starts and 0-3 SU record (1-2 ATS) in its last three games against Atlanta, the Falcons seem to make a good pick in this spot, especially with the extra points on their side.
PICK: Atlanta +3 (courtesy of Pick Shark)