Both teams fattened up on non-Quality types, finishing a combined 17-4 vs. also-rans but 4-7 vs the big boys. Tennessee has the better point differential but San Diego the better record. And one of Tennessee's "Quality" wins was that horrible Week 17 win over the Colts, where they played just a hair better than a team that clearly couldn't give a rat's ass about the outcome.
San Diego blows away Tennessee here. The Chargers were +8.6 PPG better than the average performance of their opponents. The Titans were just 1.0 PPG better. And San Diego did it on both sides of the ball, scoring 4.5 PPG more on offense than their opponents allowed on defense, while holding opposing offenses to 4.3 PPG below their scoring average. Tennessee was below average on offense (-2.8 PPG) and above average on defense (+3.8 PPG).
San Diego's offense vs. Tennessee's defense:
San Diego's offense is fairly average in our Quality Stats, but so is Tennessee's defense. But the Titans were very good on pass defense (a 74.5 Defensive Passer Rating, fourth in the league), which should make it tough for a San Diego attack that's a mere 16th in Passing Yards Per Attempt. But the Chargers have the edge with their 10th-ranked Offensive Hogs up against Tennessee's 15th ranked Defensive Hogs. And San Diego's highly efficient offense (No. 2 in Scoreability) will have an advantage against a Tennessee defense that's not very efficient (16th in Bendability).
Tennessee's offense vs. San Diego's defense:
This is not pretty. San Diego has the most highly efficient defense in football (No. 1 in Bendability) not to mention the NFL's top pass defense (No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating. Tennessee is just 20th in the corresponding offensive categories (Scoreability, Passing Yards Per Attempt). And Tennessee's No. 18 Offensive Hogs should have their hands full trying to contain San Diego's No. 5 Defensive Hogs.
Advantage: Big edge to San Diego
The Chargers have fantastic special teams, with a No. 2 overall ranking in our Special Teams Index, while the Titans have the best kicker in the game this year in Rob Bironas and are No. 8 on the Index. But Tennessee's coverage and return units are both below average, while the Chargers are superb in those areas.
Advantage: Edge to San Diego
San Diego lost Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal toward the end of the season, but fill-in Andrew Pinnock has been tutoring under Neal for five years in San Diego. In Pinnock's three starts, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed 50 times for 279 yards, 5.6 YPA and 4 TDs. Clearly, the loss of Neal has not cost San Diego in any quantifiable way.
Tennessee, on the other hand, will be without starting TE Bo Scaife and No. 3 WR Roydell Williams, and could even be without QB Vince Young, who has a quad injury and has been held out of practice this week. Add to these problems to the crushing loss of standout SS Chris Hope in mid-December (and the lingering hamstring woes for Albert Haynesworth), and this is a decimated Titans team.
Advantage: Edge to San Diego
According to the Weather Channel, there's an 80-percent chance of rain, with winds up to 20 MPH and temps around 50. But a little cool rain doesn't seem to favor one team either way.
What does a monkey think?
Bonzo's coin likes ... Tennessee (+8½).
And, that's 4-for-4 where we disagree with the Bonzonator. Tennessee has no advantages here, and they're on the road with their starting QB less than 100 percent, and the're playing a team that has stormed up the rankings in almost everyone of our Quality Stats over the second half of the season. This should be ugly.
The final score: San Diego 31, Tennessee 14