(3-6, 3-6 ATS)
San Diego Chargers
(4-5, 4-5 ATS)
This is a game that the Broncos really just have to win, just like the situation they were in last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Knowing that the Chiefs are probably beating the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, a win would keep Denver within two games in the AFC West with at least a chance, as KC still has to play all three division foes once more on the campaign. The Broncos are making no bones about what they’re trying to do here. They’re going to go straight after one of the best pass defenses in the game, and they won’t change their game plan whether it is working or not. HC Josh McDaniels trusts his QB Kyle Orton to take care of the pigskin. Orton is putting the ball in the air an average of just under 39 times per game on the season. He has 2,805 passing yards and 16 scores. Orton is using his top target, WR Brandon Lloyd all the time. Lloyd is averaging a hefty 20.2 yards per reception and has 968 yards and six scores to show for his work this year. Don’t forget about WR Jabar Gaffney either. He has 48 catches for 573 yards and two scores, while WR Eddie Royal has 43 catches for 466 yards and has visited the end zone twice.
The hardest thing to try to do against the Denver defense is to throw the football… and just like the Broncos, the Chargers are basically saying “Damned the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Just like Orton, QB Philip Rivers is throwing the ball all over the field on a regular basis. He is just short of being a 3,000 yard passer and is well on his way to eclipsing the 5,000 yard mark on the campaign if he stays healthy. Rivers has thrown 19 TDs already on the year against just eight picks. His top target, to no one’s surprise, is TE Antonio Gates. Gates has caught 40 balls for 663 yards and nine TDs. Orton just hasn’t had enough consistency at wide receiver though, as missing WR Vincent Jackson to his holdout all season long has really hard. Still, there are ten different receivers that have at least 80 yards to show for their work this year, and Rivers finds ways to work them all into the lineup. That defense for San Diego might be allowing 21.9 points per game and might have conceded at least 23 in five games this year, but it is also holding teams to just 274.6 yards per game on the campaign, the second best mark in the NFL.
San Diego really knows that this is a great chance to get back to .500 and put some more fear in the Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders, especially with both still coming to Qualcomm Stadium to start the month of December. The Bolts will win the game, but this is too heavy of an NFL point spread. Denver will find a way to stick inside this number, even if it’s with a late backdoor.
Pro Football Free Pick: Denver Broncos +10