Chargers-Broncos Betting Preview: Back an LA Team Vying for AFC’s No. 1 Seed?

Chargers-Broncos Betting Preview: Back an LA Team Vying for AFC’s No. 1 Seed? article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Phillip Rivers, Von Miller

Betting odds: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

  • Spread: Chargers -6.5
  • Over/Under: 42
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: The Chargers opened as 4-point favorites and have attracted steady money throughout the week.

Behind 70% of tickets and 73% of dollars wagered on the spread as of writing (see live data here), Los Angeles has moved to a 6.5-point favorite against Denver. PJ Walsh

Trends to know: It’s not been profitable to follow line movement in Week 17. Teams that have seen the line move at least one point in their direction, like with the Chargers, have gone 57-68-4 against the spread since 2003. John Ewing

Playoff picture: The Chargers need to win to have a chance at jumping from the 5-seed to the 1-seed in the AFC. And even if they win, they’d need either a Chiefs loss or tie. Scott T. Miller

Draft order: Denver’s three consecutive losses have helped catapult the Broncos up the draft board. They now hold the No. 12 pick, and will be cheering for Jacksonville, Atlanta and Carolina to win. Scott T. Miller

Did you know? Since 2003, teams that have won at least 70% of their games (like the Chargers) have struggled on the road ATS over the final two weeks of the regular season, going 39-55-2 (41.%) ATS — including 11-19 (36.7%) over the past five years — failing to cover by 3.4 points per game. —  Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Chargers WR Keenan Allen vs. Broncos Secondary

The Chargers should play all their guys considering they need a win to secure to the No. 1 spot in the AFC. The catch, as mentioned earlier, is that the Chargers would also need the Chiefs to lose.

The Broncos are much thinner in the secondary with shutdown slot corner Chris Harris Jr. (leg) on Injured Reserve. Meanwhile, Allen (hip) is practicing in full, and the slot is where he’s run 54.8% of his routes and has seen 26.9% of his targets this season.

Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Keenan Allen

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Allen put up a solid game as he leads the team with 27% of its target share — if the Chargers play their starters for the entire game, of course.Justin Bailey

Which team is healthier? Chargers

Both teams are expected to compete for the duration of this AFC West battle. The Chargers are nearing full health and expect to welcome backup running back Austin Ekeler (neck). Left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) is their only real question mark.

The Broncos have already ruled out Phillip Lindsay (wrist), while tight end Matt LaCosse (ankle) and wide receiver Andre Holmes (ankle) aren’t guaranteed to suit up.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: With Lindsay out, Royce Freeman will step into the starting role.

Freeman is only $3,500 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel with the highest Projected Plus/Minus among running backs on both sites, per our FantasyLabs Models.

The only concern is that the Broncos are 6.5-point underdogs and Freeman has only 10 targets this season. Bailey

Bet to watch: Over 42

This will require you to hold your nose a bit, but I think it’s the right handicap for a few reasons.

1) When these teams played back in mid-November, the total closed at 47, which proved to be almost exactly the right number (45 total points were scored).

Recent trends by both teams — the under is 5-0 in Denver’s past five games while Los Angeles is coming off a 10-point outing — seem to be suppressing this line a tad from where it should be (mid-40s).

2) After Harris went down with a season-ending leg injury, this Broncos defense has allowed 27 points to the Raiders and 20 points to the 49ers, two of the worst offenses in the NFL.

Just think about what a motivated Chargers team can do with some key matchups on their side.

3) About those matchups … as Ian Hartitz wisely pointed out in his must-read Matchup Manifesto, LA’s offense has a huge advantage in explosive plays, particularly in the passing game.

According to Sharp Football, the Chargers have the third-most explosive passing offense, while the Broncos’ pass D ranks 28th in the same category.

Denver’s offense also looks to have a decided advantage in explosive plays: Its rushing offense ranks fourth, per Sharp Football, while LA’s defense falls 29th.

4) Weather doesn’t look to be a problem at all — mid-40s with 4 mph winds — which should help LA’s passing game. And if referee trends are your thing, Sunday’s head official is John Parry, who has seen the over go 91-74 in games he’s officiated.

This won’t be a big play for me at all — if the Chiefs get up big early vs. the Raiders, I could see the Chargers pulling their starters at half — but it’s worth a bet with a total that should be closer to the mid-40s. Scott T. Miller

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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