The NFL playoffs have evolved into finding the “it team”, as four of the past six Super Bowl champions have been a fourth seed or lower and gotten hot at just the right time. For NFL football handicappers, San Diego fits the bill with a five-game winning streak and being the largest underdog by the betting odds of this round.
San Diego Offense vs. Denver Defense
The Chargers might have only split with Denver, but head coach Mike McCoy, who was coaching in Denver last season, has the blueprint for knocking off the Broncos.
McCoy has not cracked the code like in the Bud Light commercials, but he knows during Peyton Manning’s illustrious career, the best way to defeat his teams has been to make him a spectator.
Only twice this season has Denver failed to run fewer than 65 offensive plays and both times were against San Diego. Philip Rivers offense held the Broncos to under 22 minutes of possession time in each matchup.
The Chargers accomplished this by a quality mixture of running and passing and staying at or ahead of the chains, grinding out first downs to control the pace of the game.
For those making NFL picks and preferring the value of the underdog, San Diego is an interesting choice, because the offensive line is playing with supreme confidence and this team led the league in time of possession at nearly 33 minutes.
Rivers has a vast array of weapons, being able to use Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown and the multi-talented Danny Woodhead to run the ball. When he needs to throw, rookie Keenan Allen can generate big plays, while Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal and Woodhead handle the underneath routes. Rivers completed a career-best 69.5 percent of his passes, yet it was not all dink and dunk, still finishing fifth in yards per attempt.
Without Von Miller, coach John Fox will have to be more creative in bothering Rivers with a defense which finished 21st overall and 27th in passing yards allowed. The key for the Denver defense is get off the field and hold San Diego to field goals.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – San Diego by 3.5 points
Denver Offense vs. San Diego Defense
The Chargers defense was underrated this season, finishing 11th in points allowed at 21.1 per game, which is almost 15 percent less than what that opponents scored against everyone else.
Football bettors making sports picks have recognized the San Diego defense is playing with extreme confidence during this five-game winning stretch and holding opposing to only 16.2 points a contest. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is making all the right calls at the moment, can he continue?
Denver does not want to hear any of the “hot team” talk; they finished 13-3 and became the highest scoring team in NFL history. Manning put together his best season statistically and has a plethora of weapons.
The return of Wes Welker makes the Broncos just that much more lethal and with the other receivers, given time, Manning will have ample choices.
Denver needs to possess the ball more, so do not be surprised if you see a healthy dose of running back Knowshon Moreno for starters with the Bolts only 27th in yards per run attempt allowed at 4.5. This in combination with TE Juluis Thomas and Welker in short routes to move the chains, to establish the tempo they prefer.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – Denver by 8 points
Understanding the Intangibles
Sportsbooks and those generating NFL odds give Denver three points for playing in the Mile High City. Denver players admit to being “embarrassed” for how they played against San Diego in the last meeting and will want to start fast, because the Chargers offense while effective, is not built for coming from behind.
San Diego will start the game fearlessly, because they are playing their best football and they are 7-1 SU and ATS in Colorado. The Chargers mission is to play the first quarter to a draw and hopefully slowly take over the game.
Ignore Denver being fresher because of the rest; Manning teams have lost three times, including last year, in this round in his career with rest. This is about execution and who wins the first 15 minutes.
NFL Football Playoffs Edge – Denver by 2.5 points
NFL Pick – Denver by 7 points