This week NFL fans are treated to a great matchup as the 5-2 San Diego Chargers travel to Colorado to take on the 5-1 Denver Broncos in the 110th meeting of AFC East division rivals. Denver leads the series 59-49-1, and won two of the three meetings last year – including their first-ever post-season game, ending San Diego’s 2013 season with a 24-17 victory at Mile High – in games that were all decided by no more than eight points.


San Diego has burned through Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown at running back already this year, but Brandon Oliver has given the Chargers a boost, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 128 yards from scrimmage in the last three games as a starter. Philip Rivers has been absolutely on fire, completing 67.4% of his passes (5th best in the NFL) with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Rivers ranks third in passing yards (1,961) and is third with a 113.0 passer rating.

As great as Rivers has been at quarterback this season, his counterpart for Denver has been just as good if not better. Peyton Manning has thrown 19 touchdowns to only three interceptions, leads the NFL with a 118.2 passer rating, and is second in the league with 8.52 yards per pass attempt – just a hair behind Rivers 8.53 ypa.

Injuries could have a profound effect in this game. San Diego’s top corner Brandon Flowers is not expected to play due to a concussion he suffered last week, and CB Jason Verrett may also miss the game with a shoulder injury.


Team Records: Broncos 5-1 (4-0 at home); Chargers 5-2 (2-1 away)

Last Year: Broncos 28-20 at San Diego (Nov 10); Chargers won 27-20 at Denver (Dec 12); Broncos won 24-17 (Jan 12)

Last Week: Broncos beat San Francisco at home 42-17; Chargers lost to Kansas City 23-20 at home


Turnovers – Per Game Averages and League Ranks
Giveaways: Chargers 0.4 (1st); Broncos 0.7 (T-3rd)
Takeaways: Chargers 1.3 (T-20th); Broncos 1.0 (T-25th)
Differential: Chargers +0.9 (4th); Broncos +0.3 (T-9th)

Penalties per Game: Chargers 5.9 (8th); Broncos 8.0 (26th)
Penalty Yards per Game: Chargers 55.1 (15th); Broncos 68.5 (26th)
Opponent Penalties: Chargers 8.1 (5th); Broncos 5.7 (T-27th)
Opponent Penalty Yards: Chargers 65.0 (10th); Broncos 37.8 (32nd)


Offense – Per Game Averages and League Ranks

Points: Chargers 26.3 (9th); Broncos 31.5 (1st)
Yards: Chargers 360 (11th); Broncos 394 (4th)
Plays: Chargers 64.0 (20th); Broncos 64.2 (18th)
Yards per Play: Chargers 5.6 (12th); Broncos 6.1 (3rd)
First Downs: Chargers 20.6 (16th); Broncos 21.8 (7th)
Third Down Conversions: Chargers 7.6 (2nd); Broncos 5.8 (10th)
Third Down Percentage: Chargers 51.5% (2nd); Broncos 44.3% (8th)
Time of Possession: Chargers 32:37 (5th); Broncos 30:07 (14th)

Passing Yards: Chargers 271 (6th); Broncos 299 (3rd)
Completion Percentage: Chargers 67.1% (5th); Broncos 68.3% (2nd)
Passer Rating: Chargers 112.5 (3rd); Broncos 117.7 (1st)
Gross Yards per Pass: Chargers 8.5 (1st); Broncos 8.5 (2nd)
Net Yards per Attempt: Chargers 8.2 (2nd); Broncos 8.2 (1st)
Touchdown Passes: Chargers 17 (4th); Broncos 19 (T-1st)
Interceptions: Chargers 3 (T-6th); Broncos 3 (T-6th)
TD-Interception Differential: Chargers +14 (3rd); Broncos +16 (2nd)
Completions: Chargers 22.1 (17th); Broncos 24.8 (5th)
Incompletions: Chargers 10.9 (5th); Broncos 11.5 (8th)
Sacks Allowed: Chargers 1.6 (T-8th); Broncos 1.3 (6th)
Sack Yardage Lost: Chargers 66 (10th); Broncos 55 (7th)

Rushing Yards: Chargers 89.3 (29th); Broncos 95.2 (25th)
Yards per Rush: Chargers 3.0 (32nd); Broncos 3.6 (28th)
Rushing First Downs: Chargers 5.1 (T-24th); Broncos 5.2 (23rd)

Yards per Point: Chargers 13.7 (7th); Broncos 12.5 (3rd)
Points per Play: Chargers .411 (7th); Broncos .491 (1st)
Red Zone Chances: Chargers 3.6 (T-9th); Broncos 3.2 (T-18th)
Red Zone Scores: Chargers 2.0 (T-13th); Broncos 2.5 (T-3rd)
Red Zone TD Percentage: Chargers 56.0% (17th); Broncos 78.9% (1st)


Special Teams

Field Goals Made: Chargers 2.0 (T-4th); Broncos 1.0 (T-27th)
Punting Gross Yards: Chargers 45.7 (15th); Broncos 45.8 (13th)
Punting Net Yards: Chargers 43.0 (8th); Broncos 43.0 (10th)
Opponents FG Made: Chargers 0.9 (T-1st); Broncos 1.3 (T-8th)
Opp Gross Punting: Chargers 48.9 (30th); Broncos 47.4 (27th)
Opp Net Punting: Chargers 45.1 (29th); Broncos 45.1 (30th)


Defense – Per Game Averages and League Ranks

Points: Chargers 16.3 (3rd); Broncos 20.2 (T-6th)
Yards: Chargers 316 (5th); Broncos 317 (6th)
Plays: Chargers 59.0 (4th); Broncos 68.0 (24th)
Yards per Play: Chargers 5.4 (12th); Broncos 4.7 (2nd)
First Downs: Chargers 17.9 (3rd); Broncos 20.7 (19th)
Third Down Conversions: Chargers 5.7 (T-19th); Broncos 5.5 (18th)
Third Down Percentage: Chargers 45.5% (21st); Broncos 37.1% (8th)
Time of Possession: Chargers 27:22 (5th); Broncos 29:53 (14th)

Passing Yards: Chargers 210 (3rd); Broncos 243 (18th)
Completion Percentage: Chargers 61.2% (12th); Broncos 58.5% (2nd)
Passer Rating: Chargers 90.0 (14th); Broncos 80.6 (5th)
Gross Yards per Pass: Chargers 6.8 (7th); Broncos 6.3 (2nd)
Net Yards per Attempt: Chargers 6.3 (7th); Broncos 5.8 (2nd)
Touchdown Passes: Chargers 11 (T-12th); Broncos 9 (T-6th)
Interceptions: Chargers 4 (T-18th); Broncos 5 (17th)
TD-Interception Differential: Chargers -7 (T-18th); Broncos -4 (T-8th)
Completions: Chargers 20.3 (6th); Broncos 24.7 (T-28th)
Incompletions: Chargers 12.9 (T-14th); Broncos 17.5 (2nd)
Sacks: Chargers 2.1 (T-16th); Broncos 3.5 (1st)
Sack Yardage: Chargers 108 (14th); Broncos 135 (2nd)

Rushing Yards: Chargers 107 (13th); Broncos 74 (3rd)
Yards per Rush: Chargers 4.5 (24th); Broncos 3.3 (5th)
Rushing First Downs: Chargers 5.4 (T-16th); Broncos 3.5 (1st)

Yards per Point: Chargers 19.4 (2nd); Broncos 15.7 (15th)
Points per Play: Chargers .276 (3rd); Broncos .297 (4th)
Red Zone Chances: Chargers 1.9 (1st); Broncos 3.3 (T-17th)
Red Zone Scores (TD): Chargers 1.4 (T-4th); Broncos 1.7 (T-8th)
Red Zone TD Percentage: Chargers 76.7% (32nd); Broncos 50.0% (T-6th)



As of Thursday morning:
Broncos -9
Over 52½
Denver -450
San Diego +350

Denver opened up as a 6½ point favorite, but that has zoomed up to nine points as nearly all the early money went with the Broncos. Similarly the majority of the early money went with the over, though the early delta was not as dramatic. As of Thursday morning a lot of late money sided with the Chargers, resulting in their being about a 60-40 split in favor Denver. Meanwhile more money came in on the over rather than that balancing out, with their being about 80% going with the over as of Thursday morning.

San Diego (5-2 ATS, 3-4 over) has failed to cover the last two weeks after doing so in each of their first five games; they have going under and over in each of their seven games this season. The Chargers are 2-1 ATS on the road this year, covering at Arizona and Buffalo before failing to cover in a three-point victory at Oakland two weeks ago. San Diego has done well over recent years at Denver versus expectations: the Chargers are 7-0-4 against the spread in their last eleven games at Mile High.

Denver (3-3 ATS, 4-2 over) has covered in each of their last three games after not doing so in their first three games prior to their bye week. The Broncos also went over in each of those three covers – convincingly twice (in home games by 11 last week versus the Niners, and by 14 three weeks ago against Arizona), and just barely two weeks ago – by one point on a last-minute pick-six against the Jets.


Pick • Broncos 31, Chargers 24
San Diego +9
over 51


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