NFL Odds & Preview: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Week 13

Los Angeles Chargers Season Odds and expert predictions

The Los Angeles Chargers are at the point where if they don’t “win out” and get some help they’ll be watching the playoffs from home. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. But one may have to accept that quarterback Philip Rivers slipping a little. On Sunday they’ll try to get some payback against the Denver Broncos. And talk about lost seasons – Denver will probably be trying another first-time starter at quarterback. At least that’s the way it looks right now. Game time is 4:25 PM ET at Empower Field at Mile High.

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The state of the Chargers – not good

The Chargers are coming off a bye week, was probably good that they got a break in the schedule. They lost a couple of disappointing games in a row, and they were AFC West matchups. So that really hurt. Most people who follow the NFL know that this is usually the time of the year that they come on. But Rivers has now thrown seven interceptions in the last two games. And this team will have to win five straight, including three road games. Otherwise they’ll miss further action.

The earlier meeting was a 20-13 Denver win on October 6, in which Rivers was picked off twice. In that game, the Chargers got no balance, throwing the football 75% of the time. If you know anything about head coach Anthony Lynn, you know that is not part of his philosophy.

Here comes the new guy….again

The Broncos started the season with Joe Flacco, the former Super Bowl MVP, at quarterback. But they had drafted Drew Lock in the second round. And eventually everybody knew he’d be getting his chance.

Lock completed 17 of 28 passes for 180 yards in the second pre-season game against Seattle. Then the next week injured his thumb. He’s been out ever since. Now, with three weeks of practice, he has been activated as of Saturday. And all indications are that he’s going to get his opportunity., Brandon Allen, after three starts, will serve as a backup. Flacco remains out with a neck injury.

We know that Lock, who played his college ball at Missouri, has some mobility. But even during training camp, he was regarded very much as a long-term “project” by the coaching staff. Translated, that means he wasn’t ready to step in and lead an NFL team. Has that actually changed?

Here are the numbers…

In the NFL odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Chargers are favorites on the road:

Team SP/RL TOTAL ML
Chargers -3½ (-111) 37½ (-105) -200
Broncos +3½ (-109) 37½ (-115) -170
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Broncos need pressure

The Chargers’ offensive line has been kind of a liability, as Rivers has been hurried into bad throws. So it’s obvious that Denver’s defensive game plan will include lots of pressure. It is already been established that Los Angeles will abandon efforts to strike a run-pass balance. So this is altogether possible. Von Miller would be the key to such a strategy, even though he only has six sacks. Right now he is listed as 50-50 to play with his knee injury. The Chargers’ left tackle, Russell Okung, is questionable.

With Lock in the game, it’s going to be more important than ever for the Broncos to run successfully. And they have the capability to do that with Philip Lindsay, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The Bolts have been accommodating for the most part, ranking 27th in the league against the run. At least that’s according to the DVOA rankings from the metrics people at Football Outsiders.

In conclusion….

You have to wonder out loud whether Denver can muster enough offense. And we say that regardless of whether Allen or Lock is starting. The Broncos have converted only 27.7% of third downs, 30th in the league. They have scored 20 points or less in eight of 11 games. This is one of the factors that has led to “unders” in 16 of the last 20 games. So that’s certainly one way you can go. But if Lock is absolutely starting, he becomes a priority in a future “rebuild.” If the Chargers are desperate enough, they can snag this one.

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