SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-5)
at DENVER BRONCOS (6-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Line: Denver -7.5, Total: 48
The sizzling-hot Broncos seek a fifth straight victory when they return home to face struggling San Diego on Sunday.
The Chargers are 2-5 (SU and ATS) in their past seven games, with both victories coming against lowly Kansas City. Philip Rivers and Co. have had recent success in Denver, winning three in a row SU and averaging 34.7 PPG there since Rivers took over as the starting quarterback. But the Broncos have been great lately, winning four in a row SU and ATS, and scoring more than 30 points in each of those wins. They’ve beaten the Chargers twice in a row (both in San Diego), including a Week 6 win in which San Diego took a 24-0 lead, only to be outscored 35-0 in the second half. QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 300-plus yards in six of his past seven games, including 309 in that Week 6 meeting.
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San Diego is 5-1 SU (4-1-1 ATS) in its past six visits to Denver. For his career, Rivers is 9-4 as a starter versus the Broncos with 3,188 passing yards (245 YPG), 22 TD and 10 INT, equaling a 100.3 passer rating. TE Antonio Gates has also found some room in this series with 592 receiving yards and 6 TD in the past nine meetings, scoring twice in the Week 6 showdown. WR Malcom Floyd had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last visit to Sports Authority Field. Denver's pass defense has been stronger than usual though, allowing just 218 YPG (11th in NFL). But both teams have major injury concerns for this one. Chargers top RB Ryan Mathews has been limited in practice with a neck injury, making him questionable for Sunday. If he cannot play, that leaves Ronnie Brown (4.5 YPC) and Jackie Battle (4.8 YPC, 3 TD) to try to chew up yards against a Broncos run-stop unit that has held opponents to 98 rushing YPG (10th in NFL), including a paltry 71 rushing YPG in the past four games. However, Denver also has some key injuries on the defensive side of the ball in DE Elvin Dumervil (shoulder) and CB Tracy Porter (head), who are both questionable to play in this game.
Manning's accuracy has been truly remarkable, as he's completing 70 percent of his passes for the season, topping this mark in each of his past six games. He also hasn't been touched, getting sacked a total of three times during this six-game stretch. And in four home tilts this season, he's thrown for 1,226 yards (307 per game), 10 TD and zero interceptions in 146 pass attempts. Manning is making a star out of WR Demaryius Thomas who has 891 receiving yards (99 per game) and an AFC-best 19 receptions of 20+ yards. Although he scored a touchdown in the comeback win over San Diego, it was Eric Decker who starred with six catches for 98 yards and a fourth-quarter TD grab. Decker has a team-best 7 TD this season. Denver's ground game has been suspect, gaining just 102 YPG (21st in NFL). However, Willis McGahee ran all over the Chargers last year, gaining 242 yards on 39 carries (6.2 YPC) in the two-game series sweep. He had just 3.3 YPC in the Week 6 meeting, but finished the day with 98 total yards. San Diego ranks second in the NFL in rushing defense (83 YPG), but is a mediocre 18th against the pass (234 YPG).