The Denver Broncos are playing the Los Angeles Chargers in L.A. for the 2nd time ever. It’s been almost 6 full decades!
When the teams met a mile high in the season-opener, Denver got away with a 24-21 win. The Broncos are 2-0 in the AFC West, but have been playing poorly in the last few weeks, killed on national TV by the New York Giants most recently.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are on a 2 game winning streak. But a chronic problem remains – slow starts. L.A. has been outscored 50-7 in the 1st quarter over the first 6 games of the season. Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is saying the team needs more “urgency” to begin each game, but that’s a line for a TV color analyst. The real issues, as always, are more complex.
Spotting an opponent an early lead is never good in the NFL. But against the Broncos, it’s doubly dangerous. Denver is struggling on offense right now but maintains a toothy defense and pass rush. You don’t want to be playing catch-up against them.
Who: Denver Broncos at L.A. Chargers
When: Sunday, October 22nd, 4:25 PM EST
Where: StubHub Center, Los Angeles, CA
Lines: Pick’em / O/U Total: (40.5)
Since betting the spread and the money line are essentially the same for a pick’em, the touting becomes a little more simple. Who will prevail, in regulation or in OT?
Denver QB Trevor Siemian is regressing. He’s 69-of-116 and has only thrown 2 touchdown passes all season. Pundits are harsh on him for throwing a few interceptions, but they wouldn’t be such a big deal if he was producing. The Broncos have also been awful in the Red Zone and on 3rd down, and their defense is finally showing a few cracks.
In fact, the visitors are struggling to score to the point where the Chargers can re-think their game plan. Yes, they want to score points – need to score points – in the 1st quarter. But if they can get just 1 or 2 successful drives under their belt, look for a heavy dose of running plays the rest of the way.
Melvin Gordon has been the workhorse in the Charger backfield – his ypc is meager at 3.6 on the season, but he’s found some daylight in the past 2 weeks. Rivers must resist temptation to audible into passing plays and try to press the issue. This will likely be a defensive battle with turnovers telling the tale.
When in doubt, go with the superior QB. Rivers was out of his element earlier in the season, trying to do too much by himself. But the short winning streak has helped to settle the veteran.
Look for Rivers to play a smarter and more responsible contest than the flagging Siemian, and avoid Von Miller and the Denver pass rush thanks to a helpful home crowd.
Take the Chargers on the ML or against the spread.