NFL Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Network
Opening Line: Denver -7
Current Line: Denver -8
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Broncos -330 / Chargers +270
Current Money Line: Broncos -380 / Chargers +330

The 5-1 Broncos and 5-2 Chargers meet Thursday in a battle of AFC playoff contenders.
The 5-1 Broncos and 5-2 Chargers meet Thursday in a battle of AFC playoff contenders.

The 5-2 San Diego Chargers and 5-1 Denver Broncos renew their rivalry Thursday night in Denver. First place in the AFC West is on the line. These two teams might be the best in the AFC as well as the division.

Since 2001, Denver leads the series against San Diego 14-13. Denver took 2 of 3 meetings against San Diego last season. The Broncos won in San Diego 28-20, and the Chargers upset the Broncos 27-20 last December also in a Thursday night game. Denver won the rubber match at home 27-14 in an AFC Divisional Playoff game.

San Diego is coached by former Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The Chargers lost at the Arizona Cardinals 18-17 and last week at home to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-20. San Diego had won 5 straight games before the loss to the Chiefs. The Chargers have home wins  over the Seattle Seahawks 30-21, Jacksonville Jaguars 33-14, and New York Jets 31-0, along with road wins at the Buffalo Bills 22-10 and Oakland Raiders 31-28. San Diego is 5-2 ATS and the total is 3-4 this season. The Chargers were 3 point favorites against the Chiefs and the total was 46.

Denver is coached by John Fox. The Broncos’ only loss came at the Seahawks 26-20 in overtime. Denver has home wins over the Indianapolis Colts 31-24, Chiefs 24-17, Cardinals 41-20 and last week against the San Francisco 49ers 42-17, along with a road win at the New York Jets 31-17. The Broncos have won 3 straight games. Denver is 3-3 ATS and the total is 4-2 this season. The Broncos were 6.5 point favorites against the 49ers last week and the total was 48.

San Diego is outscoring teams 26-16 this season. The Chargers are #9 in scoring and #3 in points allowed. San Diego is averaging 360 yards per game on offense including 271 passing and 89 rushing yards. The Chargers are #6 in passing and #29 in rushing. On defense, San Diego is allowing 316 yards per game including 210 passing and 107 rushing yards. The Chargers are #5 in total and #3 in pass defense. San Diego is 53/105 in third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 40/94. The Chargers have forced 15 sacks and allowed 11 this season. San Diego is +6 in turnovers.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is putting up some early MVP numbers. He has completed 67.4% of his passes for 1,961 yards with 17 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with 52 rushing yards.. He has had to be spectacular as the running game has been almost non-existent. Running back Ryan Mathews is out indefinitely with a knee injury and Danny Woodhead is out for the season with an ankle injury. Brandon Oliver has 72 carries for 316 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 14 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. Donald Brown has 59 carries for 126 yards, along with 13 catches for 76 yards. He is doubtful with a concussion.

Receiver Malcolm Floyd has 20 catches for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns. Keenan Allen has 34 catches for 354 yards. Eddie Royal has 23 catches for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Antonio Gates has 27 catches for 363 yards and 7 touchdowns. Eleven defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the Chargers, along with 4 offensive linemen.

Denver is outscoring teams 32-20. The Broncos lead the league in scoring and are #6 in points allowed. Denver is averaging 394 yards per game including 299 passing and 95 rushing yards. The Broncos are #4 in total offense and #3 in passing, but #25 in rushing. On defense, Denver is allowing 317 total yards per game, including 243 passing and 74 rushing yards. The Broncos are #6 in total defense and #3 in rush defense. Denver is 36/80 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 36/96. The Broncos have forced 21 sacks and allowed 8 this season. Denver is +2 in turnovers. The Broncos have one defensive touchdown this season.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning threw 4 touchdown passes last week against the 49ers to break Brett Favre’s career record for touchdown passes. The certain Hall of Famer has thrown 510 touchdown passes in his career. Manning has completed 68.7% of his passes this season for 1,848 yards with 19 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Running back Ronnie Hillman has 55 carries for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 52 yards. Montee Ball has 55 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown plus 9 catches for 62 yards. Ball is questionable with a groin injury. Receiver Demaryius Thomas has 39 catches for 662 yards and 6  touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders has 38 catches for 541 yards with a touchdown. Julius Thomas has 28 catches for 304 yards and 9 touchdowns. Wes Welker has 17 caches for 176 yards and a touchdown. Jacob Tamme has 4 catches but 2 touchdowns. Kicker Brandon McManus is probable with a groin injury. Four defensive players are questionable or out for the Broncos.

San Diego is 7-0 ATS against teams with winning home records, 4-0 against teams with winning records and after rushing for less than 90 yards, 6-1 in road games, 9-2 after a straight up loss, and after allowing more than 350 total yards, 4-1 in Thursday games, and after allowing 150 rushing yards or more, 7-2 overall, 8-3 on grass, 5-2 against AFC teams, 7-3 after failing to cover, 3-8 in October, and 1-4 in Week 8. The road team is 12-4-5 ATS in this series recently and the underdog is 5-1. The Chargers are 11-4-2 ATS against the Broncos recently including 7-0-4 in Denver.

Denver is 4-0 ATS in October,  5-1 in Thursday games, 15-6-1 on grass, 7-3 after scoring 30 points or more, and 2-5 in week 8.

Denver has been red hot in the last 3 weeks but this seems like a lot of points against a good team even at home. San Diego has struggled in the last two weeks against the 0-6 Raiders and the Chiefs. The Chargers have a ton of injuries especially on defense. I think the Broncos win a close game at home in a high scoring game.

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