These two longtime division rivals come into this game with similar season-long performances, (Broncos 20th in DVOA, Chargers 14th) yet with very different playoff prospects. Based on Football Outsiders Playoff odds (possibly assuming a win for the Chargers already this week), the Chargers are sitting at a 72% chance of making the playoffs, whereas the Broncos are at a lowly 18%. Believe it or not, this means the Broncos are essentially in a MUST win situation.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 14-13-1
Best Bets: 20-11, Up 1058%
- Opening Line: Los Angeles -2.5
- Current Line: Los Angeles -3
- Over/Under: 47.5
- Location: Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO
- Start Time: 4:05 PM EST, SUN 11/28
- Last Meeting: Chargers 19, Broncos 16 at Los Angeles in 2020
The Chargers came into 2021 as a very intriguing team. They seemed to hit the “Young QB Jackpot” last year with a rookie of their own in Justin Herbert. However, many pointed out that much of Herbert’s production last year was propped up by less sticky variables in high leverage situations, like on 3rd down, throwing under pressure and red zone production. Hence, some negative regression was expected for the young QB in 2021 (even though Herbert has surprisingly remained strong this season) in those areas, but the consensus in the field ended up being: Herbert is likely a very good QB, yet we may have seen his peak (oddly as a rookie) last season. Coupling Herbert with a very solid nucleus of players (in key positions) and upgrades made at weak points, notably upgrading O-Line and at Head Coach, has made the Chargers a formidable foe in a very tough AFC West division.
As for the Broncos, many were rejuvenated when they found out that “Teddy Covers” Bridgewater would take the reins in Denver at the start of the season, and he has done a decent job of not losing games thus far this season. Tactically speaking, Bridewater has always been a QB that can win within structure, similar to a Rams Jared Goff, and polar opposite of Baker Mayfield. You combine this with a strong defense, and you have a recipe for a 7 to 9 win team.
From a situational standpoint, beyond the always strong home field advantage that is Mile High Stadium, the Broncos come in off their bye week, fully rested with 7 extra days to prepare for the matchup. Tactically in this matchup, for as much that will be written about “The student meeting the master,” with the student being Brandon Staley, and the master being Vic Fangio, there’s actually an objective coaching advantage to the game. In fact, this game has the second highest coaching advantage this week according to EDJ Sports, matching the #1 Coach in Brandon Staley (the student) vs. the 21st ranked Vic Fangio.
- The Chargers are 5-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last six road games.
- Denver is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games this season.
- The total has hit the under in five of the Chargers’ last seven games against Denver.
My official advice on this game is to “stay away,” as there are just too many counteractive factors. However if you have to make a play, go with the better Coach, QB, and Team, the Chargers.
Prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 21
The Picks: Chargers -2.5, UNDER 47.5
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