Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Pick
Denver Broncos (3-6 SU, 3-5-1 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Stubhub Center, Carson, California
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DEN +7/LAC -7
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Denver Broncos come into Carson for a week 11 AFC West matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. These are two teams on the opposite sides of things just past the midway point of the season. The Chargers won their 6th straight game on Sunday with a 20-6 win/cover over the Raiders on the road. They look for another divisional triumph this week against the 3-6 Broncos. Before going into the bye, the Broncos lost their 6th out of 7 games in a 19-17 loss to the Texans. After a 2-0 start, the wheels have come off some. Still, I see them notching the cover this week in the south LA enclave of Carson.
Denver: An Easy Team to Forget
Coming off the bye, Denver is a team in which people aren’t paying a lot of mind. That goes for a lot of other teams, but there is such a dull and unassuming vibe to the Broncos that it’s easy to see how no one is really thinking of them. They have fallen off considerably over the last several seasons. No moves have really worked out, as they’ve depreciated in most areas. Quarterback Case Keenum is an upgrade over who’s been in there recently, but in a bottom-line sense, he hasn’t been that much different. Injuries have taken their toll, as well.
The Silver Lining for the Broncos
For a 3-6 team, the Broncos have a lot going for them. It obviously hasn’t manifested the right way after a 2-0 start. Still, teams need to be cautious. A lot of guys on that sideline are playing for their careers at this point. Getting rid of Demaryius Thomas during the bye illustrates their predicament. But there is hope with Emmanuel Thomas having a good season, with youngster Courtland Sutton making progress in this offense. They have been getting a surprise boost in the ground-game with rookies Phillip Lindsay ad Royce Freeman (questionable). The Broncos still have a little of their old identity, just in a reduced form.
The Denver defense will need to address their leaky run-defense against the Chargers, especially with Melvin Gordon playing as well as he is. They still flaunt some horsepower on defense. Bradley Chubb is developing into a formidable pass-rusher and along with omnipresent Von Miller, they create a lot of menace. The secondary can still be effective and that will pay off here, as well. As we saw on Sunday, the Chargers’ offense isn’t one that fires automatically every week. Making some big plays can go a long way toward keeping a lid on things and this defense has that ability.
What Denver Looks to Exploit
We’ve seen a pretty pedestrian Denver offense in long stretches so far in 2018. Still, for all the big-hitters and playmakers on the Bolts “D,” they aren’t all that rigid in any particular area. With the improved Denver run-game, it begs the question of what the Chargers can provide in terms of resistance. In the last three games for the Chargers, every one of their opponents has had big games on the ground. The Broncos secondary can still register plays and Philip Rivers makes his share of miscues. The Chargers’ O-line has been serviceable, but certainly not invulnerable enough to tame all of the Broncos’ weapons.
The Chargers have been very tough at home since losing to the high-powered Chiefs in week one. Even so, after two straight on the road, the Chargers could be a bit weary. There have been some close calls recently. And even against the woeful Raiders last week, they didn’t get their act together until later in the game and had their season-low in total yardage. After 6 straight wins, could the tide be turning a bit? A better team than the Raiders might have brought that more to light last week.
How the Chargers Look to Answer
The Chargers’ offense has a lot of options to unleash on the Denver defense. This offense doesn’t always turn over and we’ve seen that twice in their last three games. Putting up 20 against Oakland is nothing to brag about. Rivers still commandeers an offense that boasts of big-time variety. Aerially, they look to make use of a vast receiving crew of Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Mike Williams. Melvin Gordon is on a rampage the last few weeks, both on the ground and in the air. It’s hard to imagine him not having a good game on Sunday. But maybe the Broncos put the bye week to good use and we’ll see the higher range of their form on defense. If so, they match up well with a Chargers’ offense that might be seeing a bit of a midseason slump.
The Chargers might not have the best stats in terms of pass and run-defense. But they still have a lot of tools for a problem-ridden Denver offense. Their pass-rush has a lot of teeth with Melvin Ingram leading the way. Isaac Rochel has been on-fire lately getting to the quarterback. S Derwin James is perhaps the top defensive rookie in the league, as he can get to the quarterback too. With a lot of guys in the secondary like Desmond King and Casey Hayward who are legitimate ball-hawks, that looms as a potential problem-area for Denver. Keenum has ten picks on the season already, with almost all of those coming in the last five games. The Chargers have given up just 56 total points in their last 5 games. That makes this a challenge for Denver’s offense to keep pace.
NFL Pick: Take the Points on the Road Underdog
On face value, this seems like a sketchy play and maybe it is. The Broncos are hardly bankable, are on the road, and on a big ol’ run of disappointment after a falsely-optimistic start to the season. Maybe it’s a “timing play,” where one has a guttural sense that a team is due for a letdown. I just see the Broncos matching up decently across enough areas to keep this respectable. With some production from their run-game and some big plays on defense and maybe special teams, I see the Broncos grinding away sufficiently enough to keep this in the ballpark. I’ll take the points.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting my sportsbook Denver Broncos +7.