Just like they were last year, Denver storms in the to post season as the number one seed and hopes to avoid another heartbreaking finish as they host the San Diego Chargers as heavy favorites in AFC divisional round betting. This is the largest spread of the weekend and I’m actually surprised it’s not creeping up. Everyone seems to love the underdogs this weekend, but this game is one where you actually should.
Denver and San Diego have a long history of battles. San Diego is 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 games against the Broncos and split the season series this year. And those of you that have followed the NFL for the past decade and a half know that Peyton Manning despises playing against the Chargers. They always seem to have his number.
In fact, the Chargers have been absolutely defiant against the number down the stretch which is why they’re garnering a ton of love against this AFC divisional round betting line. The Chargers are a sturdy 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games which includes a 27-20 victory at Denver from Week 15. You could say they’ve been barely surviving, but you could just as well say that Philip Rivers is about to hit the apex of his career.
Granted, Rivers threw for just 128 yards and a single touchdown last weekend but he also completed 12-of-16 passes. And you can question the play calling, but it worked out for the Chargers well as they rumbled to 196 yards on the ground. Denver actually had a pretty strong rushing defense, allowing just 101.6 yards per game but they’ll be without Von Miller for this game and that’s a huge loss that you can’t cover up.
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I have full faith that Rivers can match Peyton Manning because he’s done so twice already with a supporting cast that pales in comparison. Rivers racked up 218 yards the first time they met and then added another 166 yards against Denver in a 27-20 victory. Those aren’t impressive numbers in themselves, but they underlie what Rivers is capable of. He ranked fifth in the league amongst all quarterbacks with 4,478 yards this year and 32 touchdowns. Combined with a stout and dynamic rushing attack that just ran over a staunch Bengals defense on their home turf, Rivers may or may not have to do that much, but if he’s called upon he’ll be fully ready.
Peyton Manning can certainly pick apart this Chargers secondary, but he’s also a different quarterback against these guys. They picked him off just once this year, but they also disrupt a ton of his passes. And it’s hard to be encouraged by a 38-year old Manning playing in frigid weather with howling winds expected to torture those at Mile High this weekend.
All this being said, I expect the Broncos to win this game. I just don’t expect it to be the blowout that the oddsmakers are expecting. You can bet on Manning or Rivers and feel totally safe to be honest, but the Denver defense fell apart last year against Baltimore in the second round of the playoffs and without their most important playmaker on the field they’ll be just as vulnerable against Rivers and the Chargers rushing attack. The win may be a ton to ask for considering Denver’s explosive offence, but the cover is definitely on the table with such a massive AFC divisional round betting line looming over this game so take the points and don’t look back.