Broncos & Chargers Collide On Monday Night Football

By: Michael Robinson | Friday, October 12, 2012

The Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers look like the dominant teams in the AFC West and their showdown on Monday Night Football could ultimately determine the division.

The Don Best Pro Odds opened the Chargers as 3-point favorites, but they’re now ranging between -1½ and a pick ’em. The total is a high 49½ and ESPN will have the broadcast from Qualcomm Stadium at 8:30 p.m. (ET).

The AFC West is still trying to get over last year’s indignity when the Broncos (8-8) won the division through a tiebreaker. Much better things were expected from them this year with Peyton Manning aboard, but their record is just 2-3 after a tough schedule.

The Broncos still lead the division future odds at -110, while San Diego (3-2 record) is right behind at Even odds. Kansas City and Oakland both have major question marks and are afterthoughts by the oddsmakers at +1400.

San Diego (3-2 against the spread) is coming off a tough 31-24 loss at the desperate New Orleans Saints last Sunday night. Philip Rivers threw for 354 yards in the losing effort and he’s adjusting to a new passing attack that throws underneath a lot as opposed to mostly attacking vertically.

Rivers misses the outside threat of Vincent Jackson, who left for Tampa in the offseason as a free agent. The team did sign big-play threat Robert Meachem, but he was quiet until scoring two TDs against his former Saints team. It remains to be seen if he can duplicate that success.

Running back Ryan Mathews is expected to regain his starting role this week. He’s played the last three games after missing the first two with a clavicle injury. He’s averaging a healthy 5.1 yards on 12 carries per game and should see a significantly bigger workload.

Coach Norv Turner’s guys have played just two home games, a 38-10 win over Tennessee before an embarrassing 27-3 loss to Atlanta three weeks ago, punctuated by four team turnovers. Expect a much more prideful effort from the Bolts this time around.

The Broncos (2-3 ATS) brutal schedule continued last week with a 31-21 loss at New England as 5½-point ‘dogs. Both teams employed the no-huddle offense, but Bill Belichick’s crew did it better with 444 total yards.

Their only other road game was another hard one at Atlanta, a 27-21 loss as 3-point ‘dogs on a Monday night. So Manning is still looking for his first win outside of Mile High.

The 36-year-old Manning may not have the arm strength from before his neck surgery, but it doesn’t really matter with a 101 quarterback rating (tied-for-fourth). He has a good complement of weapons overall and leading receiver Demaryius Thomas (505 yards) is probable despite dealing with a hip injury.

Willis McGahee may be on the wrong side of 30, but he’s averaging 4.5 ypc and should have a bounce-back game after a crucial drop and fumble against the Pats. Fumbles have been a problem for Denver all year with their seven lost the third-most in the NFL.

Denver has a great pass rushing duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and the Chargers could struggle in pass protection if left tackle Jared Gaither (questionable, groin) is hobbled.

The Chargers won four straight in this matchup (3-0-1 ATS) before Tim Tebow and company shocked them 16-13 as 4½-point road ‘dogs last November.

The road team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings overall.

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