NFL Picks: Back Motivated Broncos To Cover -9 vs. Chargers

Jason Lake

Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:43 AM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 12:43 AM UTC

The Denver Broncos have plenty of motivation to beat the NFL odds this Sunday. The San Diego Chargers, on the other hand, would probably love to get this game over with.

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NFL Pick: Broncos -9

Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 30: 51-51-3 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-32-1 Total

Sunday's a pretty important day for the Denver Broncos. Sure, they've already qualified for the playoffs, but if the Broncos win their regular-season finale, they'll clinch the AFC West title and a first-round bye. They might even wind up with home-field advantage all the way to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. That's motivation.

The San Diego Chargers have nothing to play for Sunday afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). They could get some delight out of damaging Denver's division title chances, but it's not like San Diego can eliminate the Broncos from the postseason. Will the Chargers phone this one in? They're 9-point road dogs on the Week 17 NFL odds board; as we go to press, 61 percent of early bettors are on the visitors, but they're supplying just 53 percent of the action.


Concussion: The Series
If we completely ignore the playoff implications, the Chargers (4-11 SU, 7-8 ATS) suddenly look like a solid NFL pick in this matchup. They're 4-1 ATS in their last five games, thanks in part to the return of some of their injured offensive linemen. The Broncos (11-4 SU, 8-7 ATS), meanwhile, have dropped two of their last three SU and ATS. Injuries have been eating away at their defense, and Denver's offense remains capped under game-manager QB Brock Osweiler.

As for the part where the Chargers fold their tents, it didn't happen last week against the Oakland Raiders. San Diego went to the Black Hole and fought valiantly before dropping a 23-20 decision in overtime, cashing in as a 4-point puppy. However, the Bolts lost a number of players to injury, including LT Chris Hairston (abdomen) and LG Orlando Franklin (concussion). Oh, and center Trevor Robinson suffered a concussion, too. Here we go again.


17 Ronin
If those extra injuries aren't enough to take the wind out of San Diego's sails, maybe the weather will help. Instead of a short road trip to Oakland, the Bolts are on their way to Mile High, where they'll be met by beautiful sunny skies – and temperatures just below the freezing mark. Good times.

Then you have the curious case of Eric Weddle. San Diego put its three-time Pro Bowl safety on injured reserve Monday with a strained groin. Not all that unusual. However, Weddle reportedly didn't want to go on IR, and the team also fined him $10,000 for staying on the field at halftime during the home finale at Qualcomm Stadium, where Weddle watched his daughter perform during the break. Moreover, Weddle and the other 16 players on injured reserve have been told they won't be allowed to travel to Denver with the team. That might be welcome news for some of the wounded, but it's not exactly a good team-building measure. Broncos, please.

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