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NFL Betting Preview: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

The 4-7 Los Angeles Chargers will take on the 3-8 Denver Broncos in an AFC West showdown on Sunday in Denver. Both teams are going through underwhelming seasons, and entering Week 13, it’s time to start looking to the future. The Broncos will be starting their rookie quarterback out of Missouri, Drew Lock, for the first time in this one.

Disappointing Campaign

The Chargers had high expectations coming into the season but have not been able to live up to them. Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers has seemed to take a step back, and the defense has not done the Chargers any favors either despite some top-level talent on that side of the ball.

Rivers has thrown for 3,169 yards this season with 15 touchdowns, but he has also followed that with 14 interceptions already this year. His inconsistency has cost the Chargers opportunities in several close games this year, including the last two weeks where they lost two straight one-score games to AFC West opponents.

Although he joined the team late due to a holdout at the beginning of the season, running back Melvin Gordon is the team’s leading rusher once again. He has 100 carries this season for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He has been a substantial addition to their offense this season and should be looking forward to playing the Broncos, who allow 113 rushing yards per game.

Rivers’ leading receiver once again is Keenan Allen. The Pro Bowl wide receiver has 70 receptions this season for 796 yards and four touchdowns.

The Chargers tend to let Rivers sit back and air it out, and while it leads to big plays, it has led to turnovers often this season. If the Chargers want to avoid dropping three straight divisional games, they will have to control the ball and avoid turnovers.

Los Angeles is averaging 20.4 points per game while allowing 19.8. It has also posted 375 yards per game while giving up 332. Both teams in this game are only giving up about 200 yards passing while they are both allowing over 100 yards on the ground. As a side note, both Phillip Lindsay and Gordon could be excellent plays for fantasy football this week.

Trying Out The Rookie

While the Chargers know who their quarterback is going to be week in and week out, the Broncos are on their third starter this season. Most likely seeing what he can bring to the team before the end of the season, Lock will get his first NFL start.

I was a big fan of Lock in college, and I believe he does have the fundamental tools to be an NFL quarterback. We have seen a lot of backups and rookie quarterbacks be successful this season. While I don’t think he will put up big numbers, this could be an excellent game for him to get his toes wet.

The Chargers do have some talent on defense, but with how many yards they give up on the ground, the Broncos should be able to rely more on Lindsay to take the pressure off Lock.

Lindsay has 147 carries this season for 708 yards and five touchdowns. He will most likely be the focus for the Broncos offense this game with a rookie quarterback under center.

What To Expect

I would expect some old-school football in this game. The Chargers will look to avoid turnovers and expose the Broncos’ weak run defense, while the Broncos will try to take the pressure off Lock and only go to the air when the Chargers stack the box.

While the Chargers are 3.5-point favorites in this game, I like the Broncos for the upset this week at home.