San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Preview

San Diego Chargers (7-2) +2, O/U 42 at Denver Broncos (7-2), 8:15 p.m. Eastern Sunday, NBC
by Staff

The high-powered San Diego Chargers pay a visit to the Mile High City for an AFC West showdown with the defensive-minded Denver Broncos Sunday night at Invesco Field.

These two teams are tied atop the AFC West at 7-2, two games ahead of the third-place Kansas City Chiefs. And while San Diego leads the NFL in points scored at 297, Denver leads the league in points allowed at 111.

In their most recent outings, San Diego rallied from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 49-41 as one-point road favorites last week, while a lackluster Denver squad defeated the Raiders in Oakland 17-13 as nine-point road chalk.

Last season, the Broncos beat the Chargers twice, by scores of 20-17 and 23-7.

Since head coach Marty Schottenheimer arrived on the scene in San Diego five seasons ago, the Chargers have gone just 2-6 straight up vs. Denver and only 1-4-3 against the spread. The Broncos have also beaten San Diego six times in a row in Denver.

The Chargers are 6-3 against the spread this season, and 3-2 both straight up and ATS on the road.

The Broncos are only 4-5 vs. the number this season, and while 3-1 straight up at home, only 1-3 ATS in Denver.

These two teams have played six common opponents this season; San Diego beat Cleveland two weeks ago 32-25, while the Broncos beat the Browns 17-7 a month ago; The Chargers beat the Rams 38-24 three weeks ago, while St. Louis defeated Denver 18-10 opening weekend; San Diego fell to Kansas City 30-27 last month, while the Broncos out-uglied the Chiefs 9-6 in overtime in Week 2; The Chargers beat Pittsburgh 23-13 in Week 4, while Denver defeated the Steelers 31-20 two weeks ago; San Diego also lost at Baltimore 16-13 in Week 3, while the Broncos beat the Ravens 13-3 in Week 4; And while the Chargers beat Oakland 27-0 opening weekend, Denver has beaten the Raiders twice, by scores of 17-13 and 13-3.

San Diego QB Philip Rivers has been surprisingly solid in taking over for the departed Drew Brees this season, completing 66% of his passes for a 14/4 TD/INT ratio and a 98.1 passing rating. But it should be noted that Rivers has made only nine starts in his NFL career, and this will be his first start in Denver.

Broncos QB Jake Plummer has run hot-and-cold this season, and overall has a 55% completion rate, an 11/10 TD/INT ratio and a 73.3 QB rating.

The Chargers, paced, of course, by The Great LaDainian Tomlinson, are outrushing opponents this season by a 156-90 yards-per-game average.

Denver is outgrounding opponents this season by a 141-86 YPG margin.

San Diego ranks 3rd in the league by converting 48% of 3rd-down situations, while the Broncos rank 14th with a 39% 3rd-down success rate.

The Denver defense ranks 3rd in the league by holding opponents to a 32% 3rd-down conversion rate, while the Chargers defense ranks 6th by allowing foes to convert 35% of 3rd-down situations.

San Diego leads the league with a 32:50 time-of-possession advantage, while the Broncos rank 16th at 30:10.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at rank the Chargers 2nd at 30.2, Denver 10th at 24.4.

The O/U is 6-3 in Chargers games this season, but 2-7 in Broncos games.

Denver opened up as a three-point favorite for Sunday night’s game, with an over/under of 39. The spread has been bet down a bit at most sportsbooks around the web and the total has been bet up to as much as 42.