Sunday features two AFC West rivals at vastly different places this season. The Broncos lead the all time series 64-51-1, and the 2 split their matchups a season ago.
The Broncos are coming off their bye week, but lost 19-17 to the Texans in week 9. In week 7, they dominated the Cardinals 45-10, and lost 23-30 to the Chiefs in week 8.
After losing 2 of their first 3, the Chargers have won 6 straight, most recently a 20-6 win over Oakland. In week 7, the Chargers beat the Titans 20-19, had a bye week in week 8, and in week 9 they beat the Seahawks 25-17.
BetOnline has the Chargers as 7 point favourites, with an O/U of 46.5.
The Broncos have lost 6 of their last 7, with their lone win coming over the lowly Cardinals. Their offense has been a question mark all season, as Case Keenum has not provided the type of play they hoped for when they inked him this offseason. Keenum has thrown for 2400 yards, completing just 63.6% of his passes and is averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. On the year, he has thrown 11 TDs and 10 INTs.
Emmanuel Sanders has been his main target, with the duo hooking up 56 times for 707 yards and 3 TDs. With Demaryius Thomas departed for Houston, the Broncos hope that Courtland Sutton can step up to replace some of that production. Sutton has 20 catches this year for 381 yards and 2 TDs. Phillip Lindsay has been one of the surprises of the season, and the UDFA running back has 110 carries for 591 yards and 3 TDs.
After years of dominance, the Broncos defense has been average this season, allowing 23.7 PPG which is good for 15th. They have the 10th ranked passing defense, allowing 232.4 yards per game and 16 TDs. Their run defense is 7th worst, allowing 131.6 yards per game and 8 TDs. They are average at forcing turnovers, picking off 8 passes this season and recovering 4 fumbles, but rank 7th in sacks with 28 sacks.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Bradley Roby (ankle) – questionable, WR DaeSean Hamilton (knee) – questionable, RB Royce Freeman (ankle) – questionable
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are among the hottest teams in the NFL, with their only 2 losses coming against the Rams and the Chiefs. Philip Rivers has to be in the MVP conversation at this point, throwing for 2459 yards and 21 TDs to 4 INTs. He is completing 67.3% of his passes and is averaging 9 yards per attempt. The Chargers have a plethora of receivers who each fill different roles. Keenan Allen leads the team with 53 catches and 687 yards, and has caught 2 TDs as well. Tyrell Williams is a legit deep threat, catching 26 balls for 497 yards and 5 TDs, while Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler form a potent duo out of the backfield, combining for 56 catches for 607 yards and 7 TDs. Gordon is also a huge threat as a runner, rushing 125 times for 672 yards and 7 TDs this year.
The Chargers are ranked 8th in terms of points per game, allowing just 20.7 PPG, and are right in the middle of the pack in defending the pass, allowing 244 yards per game and 15 TDs. They are also decidedly average in defending the run, allowing 112.6 yards per game, but just 3 TDs (t-2nd). They are average in terms of turnovers forced, intercepting 10 passes but recovering just 3 fumbles, and are top 10 in sacks with 26.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Trevor Williams (knee) – questionable, LB Denzel Perryman (knee) – placed on IR, TE Antonio Gates (knee) – questionable
The Broncos have been competitive in most of their losses, but this Chargers team is very good on both sides of the ball. They can generate pressure with Melvin Ingram and Derwin James among others, and have ballhawks in the backend capable of taking advantage of over aggressive quarterbacks. Keenum is exactly the type of QB they can feast on. If the Broncos fall behind and are forced to sling it to come back, Keenum could be due for a few turnovers as he tends to hold onto the ball and try to make plays down the field.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense have not blown teams out either, but their offense is very capable of creating explosive plays and finding the endzone. While the Chargers do not have a great offensive line, Rivers is so incredible at getting the ball out quickly on different platforms to negate pass rushers like Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. The Broncos have also been gashed in the run game a few times, and Melvin Gordon is more than capable of taking over a game. In the end, I see this game playing close, but never in question with the Chargers winning, but the Broncos covering.
Final Pick: Broncos (+7)