Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Prediction: Will We Get Any Offense?

The Denver Broncos are playing host to the LA Chargers in what should be a tight divisional matchup. How should we bet it? Ben Gretch takes a look.
Ben Gretch |
Sat, November 27, 6:37 PM EST | 4 min read
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Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Prediction: Will We Get Any Offense?

Key Stat

  • Denver runs at a slow pace, ranking 30th in situation-neutral seconds per snap, per Football Outsiders.

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Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Prediction

Total: Under 47.0 (+100)

The Chargers bring their bend-don’t-break defense to Denver for a game against a slow-paced Broncos team that leans toward the run and takes their time snapping the ball. The Broncos rank 30th in the NFL in situation-neutral seconds per snap, and are happy to run the ball. With Teddy Bridgewater under center, they are also happy to take the underneath throws, especially since Jerry Jeudy returned to the lineup. Earlier in the season, we saw a little more aggressiveness downfield from Bridgewater as throwing up 50/50 balls for Courtland Sutton was his best path to success, but since he’s gotten back his smooth, underneath route runner in the form of Jeudy, Sutton has been a nonfactor.

That slow and methodical play style plays into what the Chargers allow on defense. The Chargers are giving up the most rushing yards per game of any defense, largely because they ask teams to run. Opposing offenses are running efficiently against their two-deep defensive looks to the tune of a 4.7 yards per carry average, but Los Angeles doesn’t sweat that, and wants to force their opposition to matriculate the ball down the field rather than hit for big plays.

Unfortunately for them, that hasn’t always worked, as they’ve been a little more prone to explosive plays of late. After starting the season preventing explosive pass plays among the league’s best defenses, they’ve regressed and actually have the league’s sixth-highest explosive pass play rate against over the past six weeks. That would perhaps be more of a concern, though, if they weren’t facing Bridgewater. The Broncos may be down both starting tackles, as well, which would only push them further toward a run-heavy and short passing gameplan if there are protection issues.

On the Chargers’ side, Justin Herbert is coming off one of his best games of the year in the 41-37 win over Pittsburgh last Sunday night. There’s perhaps a little concern that the Chargers are traveling to altitude in Denver off a Sunday night game when the Broncos are coming off a bye, but there are also reasons to be optimistic. I still like this Chargers side to continue getting things right and wind up a playoff team, despite their struggles prior to Week 11. One particularly positive sign in Week 11 was that they got the ball down the field a bit against a good (but injury-depleted) Steelers' defense, something they've struggled to do consistently through the middle part of the season.

The Broncos should find success on the ground, particularly if they start to lean more into rookie Javonte Williams coming out of the bye, as he has been fantastic this year, while Melvin Gordon has also played well. But the Chargers have the better quarterback in Herbert, and if this game does play out in a reasonably close fashion, that quarterback edge could prove significant.

Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Pick

Rather than the spread, the bet I like here is the under, with the Broncos likely to play slow and chew up clock on their drives, limiting the overall possessions in the game. The Chargers like to play fast and have played several high-scoring games of late, but this is one where the Broncos may do more to dictate the pace. For the game to go over, we'll need a few explosive plays, and the Broncos don't look like an explosive-play offense right now, while the Chargers showed that ability last week but haven't done it consistently enough of late for me to think this game's scoreline shoots out.

Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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