This Sunday the San Diego Chargers (8-5, 6-7 ATS) will host the Denver Broncos (10-3, 6-7 ATS) in a key AFC West showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 EST at Qualcomm Stadium and will be televised locally on CBS. Oddsmakers currently have the Broncos listed as 4-point road favorite with the total set at 50.5 points.
Despite Peyton Manning’s streak of 51 straight games with at least one touchdown pass coming to an end, Denver was able to hold on for a 24-17 home against the Bills. With the Chargers losing at home to the Patriots 14-23 on Sunday Night Football, the Broncos can clinch the AFC West title with a win over San Diego on Sunday. Denver won the earlier matchup at home 35-21 back in Week 8, but keep in mind they lost the second meeting against the Chargers last year 20-27 at home in Week 15.
Early Lean on Broncos -4
Not only is Denver going to be motivated here to lock up the division, but they are in a battle with the Patriots for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Getting homefield in the playoffs is huge for Denver, as they do not want to have to go to New England in the AFC Championship Game. As unlikely as it would seem that the Patriots would lose one of their final 3, I look for the Broncos to make sure that they don’t miss out on the opportunity if it were to happen.
Another thing here that has me leaning towards the Broncos is I’m expecting a big bounce back performance from Manning after he had by his standards a less than impressive performance last week against the Bills. Helping Manning return to form will be the return of star tight end Julius Thomas, who hasn’t played since injuring his ankle in Denver’s shocking 7-22 loss at St Louis. While the Broncos have a number of weapons in the passing, Thomas is the one that really makes them so difficult to stop, as he’s a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s also their go to guy in the redzone, where Denver has struggled since his injury.
The Broncos are 20-9 ATS over the last 3 seasons when listed as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while Chargers are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games in the second half of the season against teams with a winning record.
The Chargers are a quality team, but I’m not a believer in them being a serious contender in the AFC. Outside of a home win against the Seahawks way back in Week 2 and a fluke come-from-behind win at Baltimore, the Chargers have not had much success against the top teams in the league. In fact, their only other win against a team with a winning record is against the Bills.
While I will admit that this feels like a bit of a trap game with the Broncos only listed as a 4-point favorite, Denver is one team you can feel confident backing as a favorite. The Broncos are 20-9 ATS over the last 3 seasons when listed as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while Chargers are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games in the second half of the season against teams with a winning record.
Adding to all of this is a strong system backing Denver. Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points that have allowed 99 or less rushing yards in their last game against an opponent that has gained 99 or less rushing yards in each of their last two contests are 40-15 (73%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.