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The West is undoubtedly the class of AFC this year and on Sunday at 4:25 ET two of its members will meet in an important game as the Denver Broncos (7-1) travel to face the San Diego Chargers (4-4). The Broncos, fresh off a BYE, have been nearly flawless, but currently reside in second place behind the Kansas City Chiefs. A win here keeps the Broncos on track to get the top spot, but don't expect the Chargers to quit. Their record of 4-4 has them in contention for the second and final wild card spot, but there is very little room for error. A home loss to a divisional rival would be a big blow.
Denver, led by QB Peyton Manning, opened as seven point favorites at betonline and is taking 71% of the wagering action compared to 29% for the home team, San Diego. The Chargers sport a great 5-2-1 ATS record and the Broncos aren't shabby at 4-4. The Denver offense continues to put up video game numbers as proved by an 8-0 O/U record this year. San Diego is 4-4 in the same category. The betting percentages listed above are from the largest sportsbook in the world, sportsbook.com.
With the Broncos putting up such jaw dropping numbers, the focus shifts to San Diego QB Phillip Rivers. The veteran star boasts a 106.5 QB rating with 2,473 YDS and 17 TDS this season. He catches a Denver defense that is 30th in the NFL against the pass. With targets like Eddie Royal, Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead on his side, Rivers will make the Broncos pay; but can he go score for score with Manning? Only Andrew Luck has done that thus far in 2013.
Manning started the year in an untouchable fashion, putting up 1,470 YDS and 16 TDs without throwing an INT in the season's first four games. However, he has 1,449 YDS, 13 TDs and 6 INTs in the four games after that. He will try to get the ball in the hands of WR Demaryius Thomas. The duo has connected 48 times in 2013 for 685 YDS and 6 TDs. A big game from RB Knowshon Moreno couldn't hurt, but the five year veteran can be hit or miss. He has 108 carries for 456 YDS and 8 TDs this year.
Denver has been vulnerable on the road. They dominated a horrible New York Giants team 41-23 in their first road trip of the year and won a shootout against Dallas 51-48 at Cowboys Stadium. However, they fell 39-33 when playing against the Colts in Indianapolis. So, that's an easy win against a very bad team, a close win where they gave up 48 points, and a loss. On the flip side, San Diego is 2-1 at home after dropping a 21 point lead against Houston in Week 1, downing Dallas 30-21 and beating Indianapolis 19-9.
Denver will hope to see CB Champ Bailey back in action. He has been upgraded from "out" to "doubtful", but is on the path to recovery nonetheless. LB Donald Butler has been upgraded to "questionable" after missing his team's last game.
It will be hard to stop the Broncos offense from putting up 30+ points, so the pressure is on Phillip Rivers to have a big game. He is in a good position to do so while playing a home. If Rivers keeps up his end of the deal, this game could be won by the team that wins the battle for turnovers.
Anytime you have a divisional home dog, getting a TD no less, you have to give them a serious look. While the Chargers have one of the better D's in the NFL when using yards per point numbers as a measuring stick, their offense doesn't follow suit. The Broncos have won all but two games by more than a TD and as you know, they score points in buckets. Just not comfortable with the Chargers in a shootout here. If you shop, you can get Denver -6.5 and that's the way we'll go here. We'll also lean towards over 58. Broncos -6.5 and Over 58
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