The Chargers vs. Broncos betting odds were coming in at Denver -10.5. Be sure to claim your FREE $100 BET at Sportsbook.com when you open an online wagering account here.
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Denver -10.5 & 58
Opening Line & Total: Broncos -11 & 55.5
The Chargers try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a visit to the Broncos on Thursday night and facing a quarterback with the last name of Manning for the second straight week.
San Diego is coming off its largest win of the year, a 37-14 drubbing of Eli Manning's Giants, while Denver crushed the Titans 51-28, behind four touchdown passes from Peyton Manning, who now has 45 TD this year. Since joining the Broncos, Manning is 3-0 (2-1 ATS) versus the Chargers, throwing for 909 yards, 10 TD and 2 INT. This includes his 330 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT in a 28-20 win in San Diego on Nov. 10. But Chargers QB Philip Rivers is also having a career year (26 TD, 9 INT), which has put his team in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race at 6-7, just one game behind Baltimore for the sixth playoff spot. Rivers' 244 passing YPG, 25 TD and 12 INT as a starter in this series with the Broncos is a big reason why his team is 9-6 SU (9-5-1 ATS) in the past 15 meetings. Denver is 13-3 ATS (81%) as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points since Manning joined the team, but San Diego is 6-3 ATS (67%) in the final four weeks of the regular season since 2011. While the Chargers don't have any major injuries to cope with, the Broncos will likely be without WR Wes Welker (concussion), and have four others who are questionable in CB Champ Bailey (foot), OT Orlando Franklin (concussion), DE Derek Wolfe (illness) and WR/KR Trindon Holliday (shoulder).
The Chargers are a pedestrian 3-4 SU (3-3-1 ATS) on the road this year, but their offense has not been the issue with 24.6 PPG on 430 total YPG away from home. But the defense has allowed 24.4 PPG on 408 total YPG to host teams, while forcing just five turnovers in these seven contests. San Diego currently ranks fourth in the league in total offense (401 YPG) and passing offense (289 YPG), thanks to the second-highest time of possession (32:49). This has occurred because of a stellar third-down conversion rate of 48%, which ranks second in the NFL. But the Chargers are scoring only 24.3 PPG (T-11th in NFL) because of a poor red-zone offense (51% touchdown rate, 23rd in league). QB Philip Rivers has completed 70.3% of his passes this season for 3,882 yards (8.4 YPA), which includes a 72.3% completion rate and 8.8 YPA on the road. With the disruptive Broncos defense allowing just 55.8% completions to visiting quarterbacks this year, Rivers' accuracy will be key to his team sustaining drives and keeping Denver's offense on the sidelines. Rivers has plenty of weapons in the passing game with his top three targets all recording more than 60 receptions in WR Keenan Allen (902 rec. yards, 5 TD), TE Antonio Gates (776 rec. yards, 3 TD) and RB Danny Woodhead (534 rec. yards, 6 TD). San Diego's ground game hasn't been great this season (112 YPG, 20th in NFL; 3.9 YPC, 23rd in league), but it has picked up over the past five games with 125 rushing YPG on 4.1 YPC. Top RB Ryan Mathews (885 rush yards, 5 TD) has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his past eight games, including 103 yards in last week's win. Mathews had 59 yards on 14 carries (4.2 YPC) and a touchdown in the Week 10 loss to Denver. Defensively, San Diego has been horrible in all aspects, allowing 4.8 yards per carry and 8.4 yards per passing attempt, both of which rank 31st in the 32-team league. This has led to 383 total YPG allowed (28th in NFL) despite being on the field for just 27:37 (2nd-fewest in league). The team has also been subpar in both the red zone (61%, 25th in NFL) and on third downs (40%, 22nd in league), but has allowed just 22.4 PPG (T-11th in NFL). Another positive sign is that San Diego has generated seven takeaways over the past three games, and will need to win the turnover battle like in Week 10 to hang in with the best team in the AFC.
Denver's offense has been unbelievable this year, leading the NFL in points (39.6 PPG), yards (466 YPG), first downs (27.9 per game), third-down conversions (48%) and red-zone efficiency (79% touchdown rate). QB Peyton Manning has thrown at least two touchdowns in all but one game this year, piling up 800 yards and 9 TD passes in his past two contests. Although WR Wes Welker (778 rec. yards, 10 TD) is doubtful to play on Thursday, Manning still has plenty of options when he drops back. WR Demaryius Thomas (1,149 rec. yards, 11 TD) was the main man against the Chargers on Nov. 10 with 108 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while TE Julius Thomas (625 rec. yards, 11 TD) caught just three passes in the Week 10 meeting, but one of those was a 74-yard touchdown reception. WR Eric Decker (1,088 rec. yards, 8 TD) has been especially good over the past two games with a whopping 16 catches for 291 yards and 5 TD. But the Broncos are not just a one-dimensional passing offense, as their ground game averages 124 YPG (12th in NFL) including 566 rushing yards (189 YPG) over the past three games. Top RB Knowshon Moreno (920 rush yards, 12 total TD) rushed for 65 yards (4.3 YPC) and gained another 49 yards through the air on eight receptions in the Week 10 win over San Diego. The offense has needed to carry this team, as Denver's defense has been subpar, ranking 25th in the league in both scoring defense (26.5 PPG) and total defense (374 YPG). The unit has been decent on third downs (37%, 14th in NFL), but has been porous in the red zone (62% touchdown rate, T-27th in league). Denver tied for the NFL lead with 52 sacks last year, but has just 34 sacks this season (15th in NFL). Although the unit failed to force a turnover versus San Diego in Week 10, it has generated seven takeaways in the four games since.
- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter