Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
4:25 PM EST. The Chargers have clinched a playoff spot, but could still improve their standing to as high as the number one seed with a win here and some help from the Raiders or they could finish as low as fifth with a stumble against the rival Broncos. It's a matchup that hasn't been kind to head coach Anthony Lynn, as he and the Bolts have dropped two of the three games these teams have played since he took the job. That the Chargers are in line to face another stout defense after getting manhandled by the Ravens last Saturday should be of some concern, as that 22-10 final score flatters Philip Rivers and company.
The Chargers were held to a season-low in yards and points and Rivers was outgunned by Lamar Jackson, who can barely throw the ball five yards. Prior to that loss to the Ravens, the Chargers had been riding high after a four-game win streak that culminated in a 29-28 victory in Kansas City when they completed another improbable second-half comeback, just as they had against the Steelers in Week 13. The other two victories L.A. had over that stretch came against the Cardinals and Bengals (not exactly the cream of the crop), with lowly Cincinnati actually out-gaining the Bolts. The Chargers were 17-point chalk that day and edged out a 26-21 victory.
The perception in the market is that Denver has very little to play for here, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, L.A. is in no matter what, but there is no way the Broncos want to gift their division rivals a first-round bye with a poor performance here. Can the Chargers win? Of course, but they'll have to deal with a Denver pass rush that has seen Bradley Chubb and Von Miller combine for 26½ sacks this season. That the Broncos will be without standout rookie runner Philip Lindsay will lessen there appeal here, but this is a "next man up" league and let's not forget that it was Royce Freeman that was getting all the hype out of training camp before losing the starting job early to the undrafted free agent. Freeman, like most of his teammates, has something to prove here. Finally, Denver has been one of the toughest places to play over the years. Spotting points on the road in a division game is not a situation you'll see us step into very often and this is no different. If we're in the business of playing the value and letting the chips fall where they may, then the Broncos are a no-brainer here, as they not only should come in well under the price, they can win this one outright.
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DENVER +6½ +101 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.02)