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Bet on the NFL  The San Francisco 49ers are currently 3rd in the NFC West at 5-8-0 and will take on the 2nd place San Diego Chargers m(7-6-0) this Thursday night.

The San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive with Week 14 wins. Now, the two Golden State foes face off in a Week 15 NFL betting matchup that will deal one of them a damaging blow.  In the face of playoff elimination, the Chargers crushed division rival Kansas City 31-0 last Sunday. While quarterback Philip Rivers completed 18 of 24 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, the big story was the ground attack. The Chargers gashed the Chiefs for 207 yards rushing while holding the league’s top rushing offense to just 48 yards on the ground.

This week, however, San Diego may have to switch gears. San Francisco has been solid against the run, surrendering 100.1 yards per game (9th in the NFL), but it has struggled against the pass, giving up 227.3 yards per contest (20th in the NFL).  With this in mind, Rivers could be poised for a big day. He ranks second in the league with 3,868 yards passing and third with a passer rating of 103.1. Rivers has thrown 26 touchdown strikes with just 11 interceptions while leading the NFL’s second-ranked offense (399.6 yards per game).

Rivers and the offense should get plenty of help from the league’s top defense as well. San Diego is only allowing 264.9 total yards per game.  The decision to go back to Alex Smith turned out to be a smart one. After missing five straight games, Smith stepped under center and completed 17 of 27 passes for 255 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His day added up to an awesome passer rating of 130.9. The 49ers will likely need another strong performance from Smith Thursday to have a shot against the Chargers.

Sportsbook lists the Chargers as the 8.5 point home favorites this week.

Smith helped the 49ers put 40 points on the scoreboard in last week’s win over Seattle. It was the most points they have scored in a game since 2003.  Smith would like nothing more than to outduel Rivers in San Diego, which is bordered by his hometown of La Mesa. “It’s playoff mode right now,” said Smith. “I think that’s the thing that a lot of us try to focus on and tell each other that if you start talking about three games down the line you’re getting ahead of yourself. We’re focused on this next game.”

The 49ers will likely have to be able to move the ball through the air to win this game because of how solid the Chargers are against the run. The Chargers were able to stack the box against Kansas City last week because the Chiefs were forced to start Brodie Croyle at quarterback. In doing so, they completely shut down the best running attack in the league.



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