San Diego Chargers (6-7 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)
The Chargers needed a win over Eli Manning and the New York Giants last week and they got a big one. Phillip Rivers was surgical in his dissection of the Giants secondary and launched three touchdown strikes to propel San Diego to a 37-14 dismantling of New York, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive while bouncing Big Blue from playoff contention.
Running back Ryan Matthews turned in a productive effort after carrying the ball 29 times for 103 yards and a trip to the endzone. Shifty tailback Danny Woodhead caught a six yard flare pass from Rivers for a TD and added 42 yards on the ground averaging six yards per carry. But what may be lost in focusing on the complete offensive performance by San Diego was their defense. They picked off Manning twice, recovered a fumble and recorded a pair of sacks to stifle New York’s attack.
The Chargers need to run the table to get a sniff at the postseason but Phillip Rivers has been money for his backers when the cold weather hits. After November 30th, Rivers is 26-16 ATS as a starter but merely covering the number in NFL odds won’t be good enough if the Bolts have any playoff aspirations.
Denver Broncos (11-2 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)
What more can you say about Peyton’s magical season that hasn’t already been said? If Manning’s four touchdown passes and 397 yards through the air didn’t catch your eye then how about Matt Prater’s thunderbolt to end the first half when he boomed a record breaking 64 yard bomb through the uprights in the crisp mountain air of Mile High Stadium. The Broncos drew away from the overmatched Titans last Sunday to record a 51-28 victory and continue to be the team to beat in the AFC.
However, Denver’s high flying offense has masked their glaring deficiency on defense. They are 29th against the pass and are surrendering over 26 points per game which ranks them 25th amongst the 32 NFL teams. The Broncos defense is either mediocre or subpar in all but containing the run. They are allowing only 99.8 yards per game (ranking them 7th) but much of that could be attributed to their opposition abandoning the run in order to keep pace with a prolific Denver offense.
Free NFL Pick:
At this point in time the Broncos are pretty much fat and happy, perched at the top of the AFC heap. All but one of their last five games against San Diego has been determined by 10 points or less. Their last meeting with San Diego was five weeks ago when they defeated the Chargers on their home turf 28-20, eking out a cover as seven point road chalk in NFL odds.
While playing in Mile High is no easy task the Chargers will need to call upon Phillip Rivers to outduel the greatest gunslinger in the game. That’s going to be made easier by a porous Denver secondary but the Bolts defense, though slightly better than Denver’s, is not exactly built to withstand a withering aerial assault. Nevertheless, last week the Titans actually led at the half until they wilted under Manning’s relentless barrage.
While this game is probably not going to be anyone’s game of the week, except perhaps the squares who bet Denver blindly, I believe the short four day week may impact the crazy numbers that Denver commonly drops. That being the case, I like the generous head start the sportsbooks are giving us in their NFL odds here. We'll add the Chargers covering the spread to our NFL picks.
Play San Diego +10 ½ at Bet365.com.