Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos Preview
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
When: Monday, September 11, 2017, 10:20 PM ET
TV Broadcast: ESPN
NFL News and Previews
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- Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots Preview - October 1, 2017
- 2017 NFL Week 4 Picks and Predictions
Betting on the Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5)
Barring another injury-riddled campaign, the Los Angeles Chargers could very well be this season’s dark horse playoff team.
Had standout receiver Keenan Allen and pass-catching running back Danny Woodhead not suffered early-season injuries last year, quarterback Philip Rivers might’ve not had as much trouble passing the ball at an efficient rate. Instead, and because of those injuries to Allen and Woodhead, Rivers threw 21 interceptions – his most since 2011 – despite racking up over 4,000 passing yards for the fourth-straight season.
Even with Woodhead now a part of the Patriots, Rivers and the Chargers have a healthy Allen returning and can now lean on a true workhorse back in Melvin Gordon, who was three yards shy of a 1,000-yard rushing season to go with his 12 offensive touchdowns in just his second year in the NFL. Gordon averaged less than four yards per carry as well, but look for that statistic to improve with health also returning to Los Angeles’ offensive line.
Meanwhile, the Bolts’ defense appears pretty solid on paper entering the regular season. Joey Bosa (10.5 sacks in just 12 games) was a monster as a rookie, as he and Melvin Ingram look to become the best linebacking tandem in the NFL this season. Cornerback Casey Heyward is another star on the rise, and these three players will only continue to grow in hopes of improving the team’s middle-of-the-road D.
Unfortunately, the Chargers open their 2017 season in Mile High, where they’ve lost four straight and five of their last six meetings against the Broncos. On the other hand, they’ve gone 4-2 against the spread in those contests in the Rockies, which goes to show that they’re at least capable of delivering good results for the bettors backing them up.
Betting on the Denver Broncos (-3.5)
The Denver Broncos struggled to win games in their first full season without Peyton Manning at the helm, finishing the 2016 season with a winning 9-7 record but also failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
It seems as if the Broncos are still feeling the financial aftermath coming from their Super Bowl 50 victory, as they’ve done little in the offseason to improve one key aspect of their offense: offensive line. They lost tackle Russell Okung to the Chargers this offseason, which means expectations are high for former Cowboy Ronald Leary to make up for the loss. Leary was a member of Dallas’ vaunted O-line from last season, but he’s also arguably the most inconsistent lineman of the bunch.
Regardless of who’s starting at quarterback this season, the Broncos still have a couple of wideouts in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders capable of making life easier for either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch in the passing game. However, lead running back C.J. Anderson, who has yet to play a full 16-game season, needs to stay on the field to give the team’s offense some stability.
Then there’s Denver’s highly-praised defense, which could realistically score more points than the team’s offense this 2017. Star linebacker Von Miller lost his edge-rushing partner in DeMarcus Ware (retirement), but Shane Ray – with his eight sacks from last season – is a viable replacement for Ware. The secondary remains as imposing as ever, with the elite cornerback tandem of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. ready to shut down opposing receivers yet again.
The Broncos’ Opening Week clash against the Chargers is virtually a toss-up, especially with the hosts going a mere 5-3 at home last season (SU/ATS). But if the boys from Mile High can pressure Rivers into making poor decisions like they’re wont to do, getting win No. 1 on the board should be at hand.
The Broncos draw first blood in their renewed AFC West rivalry, but the Chargers make them earn it and cover +3.5 with a final score of 23-21.
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