San Diego Chargers (3-4 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SD +5.5/DEN -5.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The San Diego Chargers come to Mile High on Sunday to face the Denver Broncos in an AFC West matchup. Both teams are an impressive 5-2 against the spread. The Chargers have seen a little upsurge the past few weeks with two straight wins bringing their record to 3-4. The turnaround began with a win just two weeks ago at home against this very Denver team, 21-13. They look to repeat that win and get it to .500 in a wide-open AFC West. Denver looked good on MNF, beating the Texans, 27-9. Can they even the score at home against the Chargers?
It would mean a lot for the Chargers to somehow win this game. It would get them to the .500 mark as they would get 3 of their next 4 at home. It would also give them consecutive road wins over Atlanta and Denver, which would give them a lot of confidence moving forward. Denver, meanwhile, looks to continue putting a two-game slide behind them and get back to the business of becoming legit AFC contenders.
San Diego came up big in overtime with a 33-30 win over the Falcons on Sunday. We see a San Diego team that could be 7-0 or 6-1, but had unbelievable trouble closing out games, with unfathomable collapses left and right to open the season. The last two games have seen the Chargers in far better shape late in games. Philip Rivers is moving the ball. Things are looking good. After blowing a bunch of leads early in the season, they overcame a 27-10 second half deficit to win on Sunday, the kind of win that can really put wind in a teamís sails.
Despite crippling injuries to their playmakers on offense, Rivers has been making it work. On Sunday, he continued to get good play from emergent receiver Tyrell Williams, who caught 7 balls for 140 yards. Travis Benjamin and Donterelle Inman have also been contributing. And though he isnít putting up huge rushing totals, Melvin Gordon has been getting in the end zone, with ten total touchdowns this season. With Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Dexter McCluster, and others, itís an offense that can do a lot of damage.
The San Diego defense will occasionally be exploited, but itís a pretty solid group, as Denver found out a few weeks ago getting held to 13 points. Corey Liuget, Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and others can get after the QB, while Brandon Mebane helps plug the run. The middle has suffered some injuries, but Jatavis Brown has played well in spots filling in. The secondary has suffered some injuries, holding it together as guys file back into the rotation. We see a Chargers team this season that is really soldiering through a lot of personnel issues on both sides of the ball.
In the first matchup of these two teams this season, Denver QB Trevor Siemian was off the mark with 20 incompletions, with the run-game never taking off. Until midway through the final quarter, the Broncos had managed a lone field goal, before a little spurt came that was too little, too late. They look for better this week. The defense wasnít bad, but they need a better performance on the other side of the ball.
The Denver defense was their calling card in their Super Bowl-winning season of last year. They are again solid this season, though perhaps not so much against the run where theyíve been exploited at times. But they still get after it like no other defense in the league with a great pass-rush and a secondary that can give opposing quarterbacks fits. Still, out of all the teams, they faced, they got maybe their hardest time two weeks back from a San Diego offense that can get you in so many different ways.
The big questions for Denver and what will end up determining how far they go will be how consistent and well their offense can play. Right now, we see a strong effort from Trevor Siemian, though the optimism on him becoming the long-range answer is waning in recent weeks. The run-game could be good with CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker coming around, but it sometimes isnít a very impactful part of the offense. In other words, the Denver defense is great, but is it good enough to camouflage an offense that can be dead at times?
Weíve seen Siemian make nice connections with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but Denverís overall aerial production isnít on par with the talent at their disposal. Theyíre the leagueís 28th-ranked passing offense. Granted, they werenít a ton better last season, but they were at least capable of the occasional spurt. Things just seem harder to come by on offense this season without the arm of Osweiler or the mental acuity of Manning. And the defense might not quite be the shutdown unit it was in í16. Again, when a team is 5-2 with an unknown quantity thrust into the starting QB role, there are only so many bad things you can really say.
Again, itís hard to gauge the Chargers, who could really be 7-0 with any luck, or should we say solid late-game play. But they seem somehow chastened by those experiences, less prone to fall down the same holes they know all too well. At root, San Diego seems on the way up, with the Denver recipe for success a tenuous one. I see a good close game in Denver on Sunday and I like the idea of getting points on a team that looks to have found another gear. Iíll take the Chargers.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 5.5 points.
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