Bolt Beat Week 14 Staff Picks: Chargers vs. Panthers

The San Diego Chargers have had a disappointing season, but one that pales in comparison to that of the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina went to the Super Bowl last season after posting an incredible 15-1 regular season record. This season, they sit at 4-8 and it’s one of the most perplexing situations in the league.

But don’t expect the Chargers to feel bad for them. San Diego sits at 5-7 after a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that all but crushed their playoff hopes. But they’re not mathematically out of it… yet.

The Chargers have beaten the Panthers just once in five meetings all-time, and that came back in 2004. The writers here at Bolt Beat chimed in with their thoughts on this game, disheartened as they may be due to the way San Diego has played this season.

The win-loss record for each writer on picking games this season is the number in parentheses.

Gabriel Gross-Sable (0-0): “The Chargers have a difficult time handling mobile quarterbacks, and that won’t change on Sunday. They’ll force a couple turnovers, but ultimately, the return of Luke Kuechly gives the Panthers a spark. Cam Newton goes for 2 rushing touchdowns in the Panthers win. Panthers 27, Chargers 20”.

Tyler Schoon (0-1): “The San Diego Chargers travel to the East Coast and lose the game on the road. Luke Kuechly appears to be returning in this game, and will be a big part of stopping our offense. Hayward will shut down Benjamin, but Ginn will prove too quick for Mager. Ron Rivera will have his team ready to win at home after an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks.  Final Score: Chargers 20, Panthers 30.”

John Burress (3-7): “Chargers by 3 if Kuechly plays, by 6 if he doesn’t. Chargers win 3 of last 4 and go 8-8. It starts in Carolina.”

Conor Denton (5-4): “This week confuses me. I still don’t understand why Carolina is so horrid. Without their best linebacker I think the Chargers have the ability to pull this one out. The problem is can you depend on them to do it? Melvin Gordon has been a man possessed this year, but other than him and Phil, options have been limited offensively. This game will truly come down to coaching and I never favor the Chargers brass to outwit anyone except themselves. I hope I’m wrong because I hate watching this team lose but I think Carolina pulls this game out late in the fourth due to the Chargers trying not to lose instead of going for the kill. Panthers win 28-24.”

Kevin Valenzuela (4-0): “Coming off a disappointing loss to the Buccaneers, I expect the Chargers to come back strong this week. With a somewhat weak secondary and lack of chemistry that they had last year on offense, I expect Philip Rivers to have a good game, and for our defense to continue making big plays! The Charges win this one 31-23. Philip and Joey Bosa have big days.”

Bill Burgin (4-3): “Another week, another tough match-up. The athleticism of Cam Newton, and Carolinas run game will be too much for the Chargers to overcome. This game will eliminate any remaining playoff hopes fans are hanging on to. Panthers win 27-24.”

Louis Gorini (10-2): “The Carolina Panthers have been a complete letdown this year. They can no longer hide their deficiencies among their offensive line and secondary. So while it won’t surprise me that the Chargers defense will pressure Cam, I still expect him to have a big day. Cam Newton is bigger and faster than San Diego’s linebackers, which is a problem. As for the Chargers offense; expect Rivers to make some big throws, but the front 4 of the Panthers is way too physical for San Diego’s offensive line. Rivers will face pressure up the middle all day. For these reasons, San Diego loses their 1pm east coast trip out to Carolina. Chargers 17 Panthers 30.”

Sean Begler (5-5): “The Panthers weaknesses will play to the Chargers strengths on Sunday. The Panthers have the 30th pass defense in the league. This will be Philip Rivers chance to bounce back after a few poor performances. The Panthers offensive line is also on the fragile side, giving Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram a chance to recover all those missed sacks from last game. Chargers win 28-20.”

Matt Pagels (7-5): “After losing last week to the Buccaneers, the Chargers really hurt their playoff hopes. The Panthers, who are also having a down season, are always a threat with Cam Newton under center. It’s going to a be a close game (surprise?), but I think the Chargers lose in Carolina.”

Travis Wakeman: (5-7): “Every time I pick the Chargers to lose, they win. Every time I pick them to win, they lose. I’ll go with the pick that should make Chargers fans happy based on my picking history. Panthers 28, Chargers 27 in a shootout.”

Writers picking Chargers: 3

Writers picking Panthers: 7

What do you guys think? Who got it right, and who got it wrong? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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