San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread – 31124

San Diego Chargers (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date and Time: Thursday Night Football, October 23, 2014 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, colorado
TV: CBS/NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: SD +7.5/DEN -7.5
Over/Under Total: 48.5

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On Thursday Night Football, the San Diego Chargers meet the Denver Broncos at Mile High in a big AFC West game. The Chargers are 5-2, with Denver at 5-1–so this is for midseason AFC West supremacy, with the winner in first place. Denver is coming off a Sunday night 42-17 win over San Francisco. San Diego dropped their second game of the season, with a 23-20 loss at home to Kansas City.

After beating Oakland by a field goal, then losing at home to KC by the same margin in consecutive weeks, the Chargers have cooled down a bit. But that speaks to the high standards they set in the first 5 games of the season, where the offense typically marched up and down the field unabated. It would be wrong to sound the alarms now for the Chargers, though there are some troubling signs. They are on the verge of going from 5-1 to 5-3 in just a matter of a few days, so they better get their act together coming into Denver on the short week.

At the same time, San Diego isnt really doing anything wrong. Its just that at some point, all the injuries start to show and that might be whats happening now with the gutsy, but depleted Chargers. Their starting lineup on both sides of the ball, especially on defense, bears little resemblance to what they envisioned in training camp. The offensive line is reshuffled. Theyre down to their 4th and 5th choices at running back. The linebacking corps is decimated. The secondary is constantly being redefined in the light of a carrousel of different injuries. Theyve held up amazingly well with 5 wins in 7 games, but Denver is a different kettle of fish and truth be told, San Diego has seen a pretty cushy schedule thus far.

We may be seeing a Denver team that has subtly redefined its identity and is hitting a groove. In the last few seasons, weve seen a Broncos team flying out of the gate, posting video game numbers on offense and crushing most everybody. Weve seen a more subdued Denver team this season, but it may end up being an even more complete team. The defense is rounding into shape, especially against the run, where they have been giving up very little. Theyre rushing the heck out of opposing passers and seem to be getting better every week.

Denvers offense seemed to have less bite to open the season, with a lack of a meaningful running-game. With Montee Ball hurt, Ronnie Hillman has stepped up and been excellent the past two weeks. If thats a dimension Denver can continue to expand, that could allow this team to get better and better as the season carries on into the second half.


Despite crippling injuries to their backs, San Diego has been stubbornly plugging away with the run and managed to find something with Branden Oliver, who has 282 yards rushing in the last 3 games. Just like Denver, that adds to the San Diego passing game, which can really be a handful, though it didnt really flower against KC on Sunday.

With San Diego, you cant point to one thing and think if an opposing defense can stop that, they should be held in check. With San Diego, there are always options, with a collection of differently-skilled playmakers at Philip Rivers disposal. Someone has to be open eventually. Or someone presents a good matchup scenario. And Rivers is cool-headed enough to know how to exploit that. On Thursday, he may be under more pressure, with the Denver pass-rush hitting full-stride.

Expect Rivers to rise to the occasion. With all this talk of a Chargers resurgence, their record is built on wins over Buffalo, Jacksonville, the Jets, and Oakland. They did beat Seattle and to be able to say they beat both participants from last seasons Super Bowl would be a big boost to San Diego. What the Chargers have accomplished so far is impressive, but for the season to really take on a positive note, this is a game they need to win.

Working against San Diego is the defense–on both sides of the equation. The San Diego D has held up against some less-than-dynamic offenses, but can it continue to perform serviceably against a home Denver offense that looks to be settling into a nice rhythm? And with Denvers defense looking especially stout against the run, will the Chargers be able to run the ball?

Coming off games against the Jets and a Frisco offense that often languishes, maybe the Denver D has looked better that what it is, or at least what it will be against San Diego. Look for Philip Rivers to be spraying the ball around on Thursday to a head-spinning number of threats, seven of which have double digits in receptions so far in 2014. San Diego matches up well with Denver and look for their defense to keep them in this game right up until the end.

Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 7.5 points.