For two teams that weren't even in the same football league until 1970, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers wasted no time in establishing a long-standing tradition in the preseason. This will be the 47th time that the Chargers and 49ers have clashed on the field in NFL exhibition play, and it will also be the 32nd successive season in which they've met. The last year in which there was no preseason game between the 49ers and Chargers was in 1986.
The series actually draws its beginnings back prior to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The first time the Chargers and 49ers ever took the football field against each other was in the 1968 preseason, when the Chargers played host to the 49ers on Aug. 3 in the exhibition opener for both teams and put a 30-18 whipping on San Francisco. Following the merger, they met again in 1971, a 28-17 San Francisco victory, and opposed each other in 14 of the next 15 exhibtion campaigns.
Big Numbers - In regular-season games between the Chargers and 49ers, the winning team tends to win big. In 11 of 14 meetings, the winning club has scored at least 31 points. Five times, the winning side has gone over 40 points. The average total for the winning team in 14 regular-season games between the 49ers and Chargers is 35 points per game. These numbers have also proven to be a substantial boost to the over/under wagering on Chargers-49ers games. Seven of their last 10 games have gone over.
The preseason offers a completely different point of view on the Chargers-49ers rivalry. The winning team has been held to less than 30 points in three of the last four games and in 10 of past 13 Chargers-49ers contests. The average score for the winning team in those 13 games was 24.2 points per game. Three of the last four 49ers-Chargers preseason games went under, and just two of their last 12 exhibition games featured a total above 40 points.
Who Has The Edge? - It really all depends on where you look. If you base your research on the preseason, the advantage goes to San Francisco. The 49ers have won the last eight preseason games against the Chargers, and have taken the last five games played at San Francisco. It really has proven to be a series with definite patterns. The home team won the first eight games and 16 of the first 19 meetings. But after the visitors won three of the next four, it went right back to home dominance.
Home teams won 12 of the next 15 games through 2010. That 2010 game launched San Francisco's current eight-game streak, including a trio of road victories. In the regular season, it's been the Chargers who've exacted their pound of flesh from the 49ers, winning the last four games. Prior to that run, San Francisco won six in a row. That was preceeded by a three-game Chargers win streak. In fact, the only time this set has seen a team win just one game in a row was the first-ever game, a 34-3 49ers win in 1972.
Anyone For A Rematch? - The 49ers drubbed the Chargers in one of the most lopsided Super Bowl games ever played, mercilessly whipping the Chargers 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX in 1995 in Miami. So what are the chances of reliving that experience in Super Bowl LIII? Not all that outrageous, according to the line being offered at MyBookie. In a future book with wagering on any possible matchup for this season's Super Bowl, a Chargers-49ers Act II would bring odds of +12000, and while that's high, there are many much higher.
MyBookie puts the odds on the 49ers reaching Super Bowl LIII at a surprisingly low +1700 for a team that was 6-10 and last in the NFC West a year ago. The Chargers, 9-7 and second in the AFC West in 2017, are assigned odds of +2000. MyBookie places the Chargers as the +150 chalk to win the AFC West title. The 49ers are situated as the second betting choice in the NFC West at odds of +225, behind only the defending champion Los Angeles Rams.
Jumping On Jimmy - These are two teams that tore it up in the second half of the 2017 NFL season. The Chargers went 6-1 after a 3-6 start and came up one game shy of earning an AFC playoff position. The 49ers finished 5-0 after handing the starting reins at quarterback to Jimmy Garappolo, acquired in a mid-season trade from the New England Patriots. Garappolo improved to 7-0 in his career as an NFL starter, and set off a frenzy of speculation amongst the betting public.
Bovada likes Garappolo at +1400 to lead the NFL in passing yardage this season, the same odds they've assigned to two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. He's listed at +4000 to be the NFL leader in touchdown passes, ahead of 2015 MVP Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, who's at +5000. And Garappolo is the co-fourth betting choice as NFL MVP at +1500 with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and in front of past MVPs Newton (+2000) and Matt Ryan (+2200) of the Atlanta Falcons.
Getting Their Phil - Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is at odds of +2800 to be MVP. After finishing second in the league last season with 4515 yards, he's the fourth betting choice to lead the NFL in passing yardage at +750, but Rivers is also the co-sixth betting option to be the NFL leader in interceptions at +1400.
Pal Joey - After selecting him third overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Chargers expected big things from defensive end Joey Bosa, and last season, he began to deliver on his promise. Bosa finished seventh in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, and forced four fumbles. Bet365 places Bosa as their co-second betting option to finish as the 2018 NFL sacks leader at odds of +1000, alongside defending champion Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bosa is also the co-third betting choice for NFL defensive player of the year at +600.