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Broncos vs. Chargers Odds, Picks, Predictions: Target This First-Half Bet For Week 17 Showdown In Los Angeles

Broncos vs. Chargers Odds, Picks, Predictions: Target This First-Half Bet For Week 17 Showdown In Los Angeles article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert.

  • Based on the latest Broncos vs. Chargers odds, our analyst isn't targeting the full-game spread or total.
  • Instead, he's betting on a first-half angle. Find his picks and predictions for this NFL Week 17 matchup below.

Broncos vs. Chargers Odds

Broncos Odds+7.5
Chargers Odds-7.5
Time4:05 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

In Week 16, the Chargers suffered a 41-29 loss to the Texans as 13-point favorites. The loss might even end up keeping the Chargers out of the postseason — according to ESPN’s NFL Power Index, the Chargers’ playoff chances dropped from 77% to 36.4% with the loss.

The Chargers will try to bounce back on Sunday when they host the Broncos. Los Angeles initially opened as a 5-point favorite, but that number is now as high as -8 at some books due to recent COVID and injury news (check real-time NFL odds). I’ll touch on that and much more in our quest to find where the value lies for this divisional clash.

Broncos vs. Chargers Matchup

Broncos OffenseDVOA RankChargers Defense
Broncos DefenseDVOA RankChargers Offense
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Broncos Ravaged By Injuries, COVID

While I don’t usually begin my handicap by looking at the injury report, I’ve had to make an exception based on the recent news coming out of the Broncos’ camp.

In addition to losing its starting quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, Denver is also dealing with an outbreak, as it now has 13 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list (check out SB Nation’s tracker here). These aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill players, as the list includes starters on offense like wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, in addition to right tackle Bobby Massie.

Unfortunately, the defense has been hit even harder, with linebackers Bradley Chubb, Baron Browning and Jonathan Cooper on the list. All three started at least five games this season.

Denver also has nine other players listed as questionable with non-COVID-related injuries. Those players include running backs Javonte Williams (knee) and Melvin Gordon III (thumb/hip). Last week against the Raiders, Williams and Gordon were also carrying injuries, as Denver could muster only 18 rushing yards on 16 carries.

In the first meeting against the Chargers in Week 12, the Broncos racked up 147 yards on the ground en route to a 28-13 victory. However, with both backs still banged up, the Broncos might struggle to run the ball effectively against a Chargers team that is last in run defense DVOA.

Usually, it helps if you don’t have too many roster changes when turning to a backup quarterback. However, with so many moving parts for Denver, it’s tough to have much confidence in whoever takes the field on Sunday.

Chargers Look to Rebound From Surprise Loss

This season, five of the Chargers’ seven losses came against teams ranked in the top half of offensive run DVOA. And in those games, opponents averaged roughly 150 yards on the ground.

With the NFL widely regarded as a copycat league, it’s normal to expect opposing teams to focus their efforts on running the ball against the Chargers. However, what was surprising about the Chargers’ loss to the Texans was they allowed 189 rushing yards in the game. Houston ranks dead last offensively in run DVOA and rushing yards per game (84.8).

If you’re a Chargers fan, you’re certainly hoping they learned something from last week’s debacle. They were missing 13 active players due to COVID, including two key starters on the defensive line as Joey Bosa and Justin Jones were sidelined. Starting cornerback, Tevaughn Campbell, was also ruled out.

On offense, the Chargers didn’t have their starting center in Corey Linsley, in addition to two starting skill position players as running back Austin Ekeler and wide receiver Mike Williams also landed on the list. However, teams across the league have all dealt with this issue, so no one should get a pass. Houston had 22 players ruled out due to COVID, including receivers Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Jaylen Samuel. Nonetheless, it still won the game by relying on a solid rushing attack.

The good news for the Chargers is they’re now down to just two players on the COVID/reserve list. If that doesn’t give them their mojo back on Sunday, then they might as well clean out their lockers and call it a season.

Los Angeles should have a massive advantage over Denver on the field in terms of skill. Furthermore, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley might get away with not loading the box if the Broncos running backs are less than 100%. If the Broncos have to put the ball in Drew Lock’s hands to win the game, it could lead to their demise.

Broncos vs. Chargers Predictions

I’m not expecting a whole lot out of Lock in this spot. In Week 16, he completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 153 yards. The fact that he threw the ball only 22 times suggests that the Broncos aren’t necessarily ready to hand him the keys to the offense.

Denver ended up losing the game to Las Vegas, 17-13, despite having a 3:0 edge in turnover margin.

When I saw this matchup on my card, I was all set to make a case for the under with it being a divisional game. However, after studying the rosters and seeing which players are available and who is ruled out, I realized that this handicap should solely focus on the injury report.

The motivation edge, which favors the Chargers, should also be factored in.

Historically, this is a great spot to back Los Angeles to get off to a fast start. In the first half, the Chargers are 7-2 against the spread (ATS) as a back-to-back favorite off a double digit loss, per our Action Labs data:

The Chargers are also 14-4-2 ATS in the first half as a favorite against the Broncos:

BetMGM is offering the best price on the board as of writing, with Los Angeles laying -3.5 in the first half. I would play this number up to -4.

Pick: Chargers 1H -3.5 | Bet to: -4

More Broncos-Chargers Odds, Picks, Trends

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