Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
|Date & Time||Sunday December 1, 2019, 4:25 PM (EST)|
Empower Field at Mike High
Denver -1.5; Total 38
While not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Los Angeles Chargers (4-7) will look to keep their slim postseason hopes alive when they travel to Empower Field at Mile High in Denver to take on the Broncos (3-8) on Sunday. The Chargers will most likely need to win out and get a lot of help in order for those postseason dreams to come true.
Los Angeles is a team that has been in every game so far this season but has simply struggled to pull out close wins. Although the Chargers did win close games against Indianapolis and Chicago while posting double-digit wins over Miami and Green Bay, their seven losses came with a losing margin of just 5.1 points and not a single one of those losses were by more than seven points.
Last week’s 24-17 loss to Kansas City in Mexico City illustrates that point well. The Chargers led 3-0 after the first quarter and trailed by a single point at the half, 10-9. But Kansas City came out of the locker rooms and scored two touchdowns and the Chargers could not recover. Philip Rivers passed for 353 yards but his four interceptions were his team’s undoing. Austin Ekeler caught eight balls for 108 yards, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen added 76 and 71 receiving yards respectively, and Melvin Gordon carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards.
Rivers ranks third in the NFL with his 3,169 passing yards, trailing just Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston in the category, but his 15 interceptions trail only Winston for worst in the NFL. Allen leads the team with 70 receptions for 796 yards while Austin Ekeler has come out of the backfield to catch 65 balls for 667 yards and six touchdowns.
This Chargers have been able to move the ball reasonably well, ranking 13th in the NFL averaging 363.6 yards of offense per game, but their 20.4 points per game rank just 23rd in the league. That can most likely be accounted for by Los Angeles’ turnover margin, which sits at -8. Only five teams in the NFL have a worse turnover margin this season, and those five teams have a combined record of 11-44. Defensively, the Chargers are elite, ranking fifth in yards allowed at just 317.5 yards per game. But their points allowed per game, while still good at 19.8 points allowed, rank only 11th in the NFL.
Denver enters the game losing four of its last five with an offense that has failed to break 20 points in three of those five games. In fact, the Broncos have scored more than 20 points in just four of their 11 games this season, which is one reason why Denver ranks just 29th in the NFL scoring just 15.9 points per game. The Broncos average scoring more than only Miami, Cincinnati, and Washington this season.
The Broncos were downright awful in last week’s game at Buffalo. Denver was held to just 134 yards of total offense with quarterback Brandon Allen completing just 10-of-25 passes for 82 yards and an interception. Phillip Lindsay’s 13 carries for 57 yards were a bright spot in an otherwise dismal day offensively against Buffalo.
On the season, Allen has completed just 46.4 percent of his passes for 515 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the three games that he has played since taking over at starter for Joe Flacco. Allen is averaging just 184.7 yards passing per game as a starter. Lindsay has been good out of the backfield, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for a total of 708 yards on the ground with five touchdowns. Courtland Sutton is Denver’s top receiver catching 50 balls for 832 yards and four touchdowns.
While Denver’s offense has struggled, its defense has been among the best in the NFL, ranking eighth in yards allowed per game at just 321.1. The Broncos also rank ninth in points allowed per game at 19.7.
Neither of these two teams is great against the spread with Denver hovering around .500 and the Chargers being one of the worst in the league with a 3-6-2 record against the spread. But these are two teams with defenses that rank in the top third of the league, with Denver’s offense unable to move the ball and Los Angeles’ offense able to move the ball, but unable to score regularly. In addition, 15 of these two teams’ 22 combined games have gone under the total, including the first time these two teams played, when the total was 46 and Denver won 20-13. This game is set up for an under despite the low total, so take the under 38 and watch the defense dominate in Denver.