San Diego Chargers (3-4) at Denver Broncos (5-2)
Last week, the Broncos were 7 point home favorites over the Chargers on the early line, but the line has since moved to just 4 in favor of the Broncos at home. Ordinarily, I love to fade significant week-to-week line movement, but the Chargers have just 4 losses by more than 7 points in the past 2 seasons, so we would have been getting incredible line value with the Chargers at 7. The Chargers are just 7-16 over the past 2 seasons, but that’s largely the result of a 4-12 record in games decided by a 7 points or fewer. Last week, they finally won a close game, knocking off a good Falcons team in overtime in Atlanta. That pushed their record on the season to 3-4, but they’ve been better than their record, as they enter this game 8th in first down percentage differential; their biggest loss this season was a 6 point overtime loss in Kansas City, a game in which they blew a 21-0 lead. Their other 3 losses came by 4 points or fewer.
The Chargers have had a lot of injuries this season, most notably losing running back Danny Woodhead, wide receiver Keenan Allen, and cornerback Jason Verrett for the season with injury, but they have continued to play well. Verrett’s absence has been offset by the emergence of #3 overall pick Joey Bosa, who has been one of the most disruptive defenders in the league since returning from a 4-game absence to start the season. Meanwhile, youngsters Melvin Gordon and Tyrell Williams have stepped up big-time on offense, while veteran quarterback Philip Rivers continues to play at a high level. This week, they get cornerback Brandon Flowers back from a 4-week absence with a concussion, a big boost for this secondary.
The Broncos are 2nd in that first down percentage differential, but they have had inconsistent quarterback play. On top of that, San Diego is 9-3 ATS on the road in the past 2 seasons. The Chargers could be tired coming off of that huge upset overtime victory in Atlanta, but teams actually do well the week after an upset road overtime victory, going 57-44 in that spot since 1989. This line is right where it should be at 4, so I can’t take San Diego with any confidence, but they’re the pick here in pick ‘em leagues.
Denver Broncos 20 San Diego Chargers 17
Pick against the spread: San Diego +4