A huge AFC West tilt goes late Sunday afternoon as the inconsistent San Diego Chargers look to keep their division title hopes alive as they travel to the Mile High city to take on Peyton Manning and the red-hot Denver Broncos. Many pundits expected this division to be wide-open in 2012, but after ten weeks of play, it’s clear the Broncos are the class of it. If San Diego is to have any shot at a post-season berth, this will be a game they simply need to get.
San Diego has been a wildly inconsistent group thus far in 2012 and should be entering this contest a bitter bunch based on how their last game against Denver turned out. Back on October 15th, the Chargers blew a 24-point lead at halftime, allowing the Broncos to storm back and take a hold of the AFC West. Now, as a result San Diego’s backs are against the wall and they’ll need a big performance to give themselves a shot at the division. San Diego will want to avenge that showing, but it won’t be easy without key nose-tackle, Aubrayo Franklin in the line-up.
On the other side, Manning and the Broncos have been better than advertised. This team has rolled through opposition lately, and ever since that huge comeback performance against the Chargers in mid-October, Denver has looked the part of a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Broncos have been given a solid opportunity in this contest, as a win here should secure the AFC West title for them. They are dealing with a few scary injuries however, as Elvis Dumervil is highly questionable for this game, and right guard Chris Kuiper remains doubtful. Both losses could prove to be huge in a game of this magnitude.
Chargers vs. Broncos Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers +8 (-110)
@ Denver Broncos -8 (-110)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Chargers vs. Broncos Pick:
This is a must-win game for the San Diego Chargers, though given their recent run of play, I’m not sure how any bettor could possibly trust this team. Quarterback Philip Rivers has truly regressed, and looks awful in 2012, while the rest of the team just seems in complete disarray. Going against a Denver side that is hungry, well-organized, and primed for the playoffs, seems like quite the mismatch.
Last time when these teams played in October, the Broncos exploited the Chargers’ huge deficiency at the tackle position and they’ll look to do that again come Sunday. With left tackle Jared Gaither not expected to play, look for the Broncos to find ways to get to Rivers and disrupt his rhythm in the pocket. Rivers has been prone to brutal decisions thus far in 2012, and if the Denver pass rushers can get to him with regularity, it will be a long afternoon for San Diego.
But, desperation is an intriguing thing, and the Chargers will be experiencing plenty of it. Though things don’t look great for them entering the Mile High City, I would not be at all surprised if a) the Chargers kept things close, and b) needed a high-scoring game to do so. This is as big of a do-or-die game as there can be in Week 11, and with their backs against the wall, San Diego will come through. The Denver attack is quite potent though, and as a result look for the Chargers to have no choice but to match them with a high number of points. Road underdogs following a road loss have covered 67% of the time, and if San Diego covers, this game is likely going to be correlated to the over.
The Broncos turn the ball over and are prone to making mistakes in which the opposition can capitalize on. Denver is second in the NFL in fumbles, and San Diego has forced an impressive 17 fumbles this season. That is a dynamic worth watching as well. Ultimately, Denver will win this game, but Rivers will keep things close. If Dumervil can’t go, San Diego will be able to move the ball and utilize their talent to secure a high-scoring game. Rivers has thrived playing in Denver in years past, and look for a huge bounce-back outing from the former N.C. State star. This one can go either way, and as a result look for a high-scoring shootout from Denver. Both offenses will move the ball with ease, and a big game from Ryan Mathews seems on the horizon. Take the over 48, as a 31-27 score-line seems fitting.
PICK = Over 48 (-110)