Free NFL Picks: Chargers at Broncos Week 15 Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/10/2013
I'm assuming NFL players don't celebrate when players on other teams get hurt, but I don't think the Broncos are all that heartbroken that the Patriots lost Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending injury on Sunday. That obviously hugely weakens New England, which is a game behind Denver for the top seed in the AFC but holds the tiebreaker. Gronk's loss makes it more likely that New England loses this week at Miami or next at Baltimore, so Denver is looking good for that top seed.
In addition, should we see a Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rematch in the AFC title game, the Broncos don't have to worry about Gronkowski. In the Pats' come-from-behind 34-31 overtime win over Denver a few weeks ago, Gronk was targeted 10 times by Brady and finished with seven catches for 90 yards and a score. New England simply doesn't have anyone like him.
I doubt the Broncos (11-2) overlook San Diego (6-7) on Thursday night as they want that No. 1 seed and to rest some guys in Week 17. This is also the Broncos' regular-season home finale, and I'm sure they'd like to run the table there. They could clinch the AFC West with a win and Chiefs loss in Oakland, but that's inevitable at some point. The Chargers are still alive in the wild-card race, a game behind Baltimore and Miami. San Diego would lose a head-to-head with the Fins but don't play Baltimore. Realistically, the Bolts have to win out to have any shot, and that's doable with an upset Thursday. San Diego closes at home against Oakland and Kansas City.
Chargers at Broncos Betting Story Lines
There had been a lot of talk of how Manning has a terrible record in games in which the temperature at kickoff is below 32, but he may have put all that to rest in Sunday's 51-28 win over Tennessee. Denver became the fifth team in league history with three 50-point games in a season. Manning threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns, his seventh four-TD game of the year, yet another record. He has 45 TD passes and could tie Brady's single-season mark this week. Manning's 39 completions were a team record, and his 59 attempts tied a franchise mark. The Titans are actually pretty good against the pass. Manning wasn't even the star of the game in some regards as Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard field goal to close the first half, setting the NFL record. Some say it's cheapened in that it happened at altitude, but I disagree.
The news wasn't all good from that game. Wes Welker caught an early touchdown pass but eventually left with his second concussion of the season. Needless to say, that's a big-time worry going forward. There's essentially no chance Welker can play in this quick turnaround game. Welker (10), Knowshon Moreno (12), Demaryius Thomas (11) and Julius Thomas (11) are the first quartet of teammates with 10 touchdowns in a season. Denver should get excellent kick returner Trindon Holliday back after he missed Sunday's game.
The Chargers probably played their best all-around game of the season in Sunday's 37-14 blowout of the visiting Giants. Philip Rivers continued his excellent season -- he should be the AFC's No. 2 Pro Bowler behind Manning -- with 249 yards and three scores. Keenan Allen gained a bit more ground on Green Bay's Eddie Lacy for Offensive Rookie of the Year as Allen had two TD catches. He has 61 catches for 902 yards and five scores on the year and is clearly a third-round steal out of Cal. Allen did leave Sunday's game for a bit with a shoulder injury but should play.
The Bolts gave Denver a good game in Week 10, falling 28-20 at home. They were down 28-6 early in the third quarter, but that was misleading. The Chargers were inside the Denver 23 three times in their first four possessions but scored only six points on two Nick Novak field goals. He missed a 37-yard attempt with 1:38 left before halftime. That turned out to be a 10-point swing as Manning then led the Broncos on a TD drive and a 21-6 lead at the half instead of it being 14-9. Manning threw for 330 yards and four scores on the day, while Rivers threw for 218 and one. The Bolts dominated time of possession.
Chargers at Broncos Week 15 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Denver is a 10-point favorite with a total of 55.5. San Diego is 7-5-1 ATS (3-3-1 on road) and 6-7 “over/under” (3-4 on road). Denver is 8-4-1 ATS (5-1-1 at home) and 11-2 O/U (6-1 at home). The Chargers are 2-9-1 ATS in their past 12 after an ATS win. They have covered just one of their past 10 after a straight up win. Bolts are 0-5 ATS in their past five following a win of at least two touchdowns. Denver is 5-0 ATS in its past five Thursday games. The Broncos have covered seven of their past eight against teams with a winning record. The under is 7-1 in San Diego's past eight against the AFC. The over is 6-0-1 in Denver's past seven against teams with a losing record. The over is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in Denver. The road team is 5-0-1 ATS in the past six.
Free NFL Picks: Chargers at Broncos Betting Predictions
Hard to bet against Denver at home, where it is winning by an average of 20.4 points this season. The closest result was a 10-point victory over Kansas City. San Diego does usually play well there, only losing by a touchdown in 2012. I hate picking Chargers games because you never know which team shows up. The one that won in Philly and KC or lost at the lousy Redskins and Raiders? I lean Denver and the over.
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