San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Pick – Point Spread

San Diego Chargers (6-3 4-5 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (6-3 6-3 ATS), NFL Week 11, Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 4:15 PM EST Sunday November 22, 2009 on CBS
by Jason Green at

Point Spread: TBA (not out yet due to Orton status)
Over/Under: TBA

This Sunday in Mile High City the struggling Denver Broncos host the streaking San Diego Chargers. The Broncos have lost 3 in a row and the Chargers have won 4 in a row and now both teams are tied atop the AFC West. The winner of this game will be all alone in 1st place in the division. At the end of last season the Broncos imploded and handed the division crown to the Chargers and it looks as that is happening in the middle part of this season. The Broncos’ defense has let them down in their 3 game slide and in their last game QB Kyle Orton hurt his ankle. Denver has to stop the bleeding and start winning, as they have a tougher remaining schedule than the Chargers do. It seems like the Broncos that started 6-0 are in the past with their recent play. This home game is vital for Denver not only for them to stay in 1st place in the division, but also to restore their confidence.

In their last game the Broncos lost to the Washington Redskins 27-17 while the Chargers had a solid win in beating the Philadelphia Eagles 31-23.

In their loss to the Broncos the reasons they lost is that they committed 2 turnovers and they could not stop the run. Also, after Orton went out with an ankle injury backup QB Chris Simms could not do anything. After scoring 14 points in the 1st quarter the Broncos only scored 3 points for the rest of the game. The Broncos did not play good 3rd down D to say the least, as the Redskins were 8/16 on 3rd down conversions. The Broncos also allowed the Redskins to dominate in terms of time of possession (35:43 to 24:17). The Broncos were favored by 3 points so they did not cover and the total of 36.5 was surpassed.

In their win over the Eagles the Chargers finally were able to run the ball, as they had 119 yards rushing while the Eagles only had 29. The Eagles had many more passing yards, but they were down early and had to go to the air in order to come back, which they could not do. The Chargers’ D stuffed the run and they forced Donovan McNabb into 56 pass attempts. The Chargers also played a very mistake-free game, as they were only penalized 3 times for 31 yards and they did not commit any turnovers. The Chargers were favored by 1 point and the posted total of 47 was surpassed.

This season the Chargers have not been able to run the ball and QB Philip Rivers has had to do it all. However, in the win over the Eagles the LaDainian Tomlinson looked like the LT of old rushing for 96 yards. If the Chargers can run the ball against the Broncos they will be in good shape.

Denver’s defense ranks 7th in the league, but a few weeks ago they were the top-ranked unit. During their 3-game losing streak the Broncos have given up an average of 28 points per game.

Kyle Orton’s ankle injury is severe enough that he may miss this game and if he does the Broncos may be in trouble. Backup Chris Simms was only 3/13 for 13 yards with 1 INT after Orton went out in the loss to Washington.

If Orton can’t go the Denver RB’s of Knowshon Moreno (520 yds 2 TD) and Correll Buckhalter (364 yds 1 TD) will have to carry the offensive load. Moreno is now the featured back, as in the Redskins’ loss he had 96 yards rushing while Buckhalter only had 11.

The Chargers’ defense ranks 14th and their strength is not stopping the run, but if they can score quickly and force the Broncos to pass the ball to come back, like in the win over the Eagles, they will be in good shape.

Denver’s pass defense ranks 5th in the league and they will have their hands full in this game against Phillip Rivers and a Chargers’ passing offense that is averaging 260 yards per game.

If both teams play like they have been the Chargers will win this game.

Jason’s Pick – Things do not look good for Denver with their losing streak and possible loss of their starting QB. If the Chargers’ rushing offense continues to play well they will not only win this game, but they have a legit shot to go far in the playoffs. The Chargers will keep rolling, as even though this game is in Denver they will win this game and take over 1st place in the AFC West. Without a spread available, we have to wait though as they media may over-sensationalize the loss of Orton and the betting value may be with the Broncos.