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Denver Broncos +1.5 vs San Diego Chargers

September 2008

The 1-0 Denver Broncos host the 0-1 San Diego Chargers in a huge AFC West divisional match-up that could put the Broncos in the drivers seat within this division. A win would put them 2 games ahead of the Chargers in the standings, as well as putting them at 2-0 vs division opponents.


Denver will get to play 4 of their next 5 games at home, where they have excelled over the years. Since 1983 the Broncos have gone 144-46 SU when playing at home…..that’s a winning percentage of over 75%. Although they have taken a step backwards the past couple of years since drafting Jay Cutler in 2006, this will now be his 3rd full season with the team and we should see him make significant progress this year. He’s got one of the premier targets to work with in WR Brandon Marshall, and we all saw what rookie WR Eddie Royal accomplished against Oakland last week as he hauled in 9 passes for 146 yds and a TD. Cutler shredded what was supposed to be one of the better pass coverage units in the NFL for 299 yds and 2 TD’s on just 16 completions. Denver, who always seems to have a great running game regardless of who’s in the backfield, also churned out a respectable 142 yds rushing in that game.

The Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Carolina Panthers in their season opener as Jake Delhomme hit TE Dante Rosario in the back of the end zone as time expired for the game winning TD. San Diego started out a little sluggish, managing to put just 10 pts on the board through the first 3 Q’s to go into the final quarter down 19-10. But an 80 yd drive, culminating in a 24 yd TD toss to Antonio Gates, got the Chargers within 2. Then a Carolina fumble deep in Charger territory gave the Chargers good field position and, with just 2:27 left in the game, they scored to take a 24-19 lead. But the defense couldn’t hold it as Carolina marched 68 yds in 11 plays for the winning score. Overall, the Panthers were able to put up almost 400 yds of total offense on the vaunted Chargers defense, including 142 yds on the ground. A hobbled Shawne Merriman obviously didn’t help, and now he’s out for the season. The loss dropped the Chargers overall ATS record to 12-3 over their last 15 games, including last year’s playoffs. It also dropped their ATS record as a home favorite to 14-3 since the start of the 2006 season.

As for this week’s game, the Chargers have dominated the AFC West over the past 5 years or so, in compiling a 17-6-4 ATS, 18-9 SU record vs division foes over the last 27 match-ups. They have swept the Broncos the last 2 years, winning by margins of 20 and 38 last year, and by margins of 28 and 8 the previous year. San Diego has become a huge public favorite in the last couple of years, and probably with good reason. They went on a 12-2 ATS win streak starting around week 4 last year, and continuing throughout the playoffs. Their name comes up often as Super Bowl contenders, and they almost made it last year. The year before that they should have beat the Pats and gone on to the AFC championship game to face the Colts. They've got big names like LT, Gates, Merriman. Their defense is always talked about as being one of the best. And this is likely why we find them as a road favorite in this game.

However, San Diego has been a slow starter as of late and I expect that trend to continue. They’ve got several key players that are either out or not 100%, (Gates, Tomlinson, Hardwick, McNeil), and have now lost their defensive leader Shawne Merriman for the year. Their defense will not be quite as advertised now, as evidenced by last week’s performance. They have never really been that great against the pass anyway, and now Carolina puts up over 140 yds rushing against them to boot. Then, after that tough loss, they’ve got to travel to one of the toughest venues in the NFL to face a team that has quadruple revenge, and that appears to be coming into it’s own. Even though everyone else seems to be on the Chargers in this game, I don’t think this is a good spot for them at all, and I expect the Bronco’s to win the game outright.


 

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