The jumbled AFC West will get a little more clearer heading into the week 12 Chargers at Broncos meeting. Los Angeles (6-4) can move into 1st place with 7-4 Kansas City with a win in Denver thanks to having the tie breaker over the Chiefs in a 30-24 victory in week 3.
The Broncos (5-5) sit in the basement of the division, but can stay right in the hunt if they beat Los Angeles. You really never know what you’re going to get from either of these teams on a week to week basis, as the Chargers have alternated wins and losses the last four games while Denver posted wins over Washington and Dallas only to fall 30-13 last week at home against Philadelphia. Oddsmakers have Denver a +3 point favorite.
Tough Test for Herbert
It’s been an up and down sophomore season for Los Angeles QB Justin Herbert, who has thrown for 225 yards or less in three of his last five but also has a 356 and a 382 performance over that span. Herbert looked good last week going 30/41 for 382 yards and 3 TD in a 41-37 win over Pittsburgh, but the Steelers defense was also very banged up.
The degree of difficulty ramps up a bit for Herbert as the Broncos have a top 10 defense overall, and are allowing just 218.1 yards/game on the ground. Denver is also good against the run (110.1 yards/game) but Herbert also added 90 yards rushing last week vs. Pittsburgh. Austin Ekeler had 50 yards on just 11 carries (2 TD) vs. the Steelers so getting the Western Colorado product going on the road will be key too.
The Chargers defense was a liability last week against the Steelers giving up a 273 yard, 3 TD performance against Ben Roethlisberger who had missed the week prior in COVID protocols. That marks the 6th straight week that opponents have scored at least 24 points against the Chargers defense and their 26.5 ppg allowed is 5th most in the league.
Can Denver Find Some Offense?
The Chargers are giving up points in bunches lately, but that’s against good offenses like Baltimore, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh. The Broncos definitely do not fall into that category, being held to 17 points or less in 5 of the last 7. Denver does have a solid RB duo in Melvin Gordon III (522 yards and Javonte Williams (514) but the Chargers’ last place rush defense (145.1 yards/game) has looked better in recent weeks.
These two teams matched up in a tale of two games last season, 31-30 in Denver and 19-16 in Los Angeles with both teams winning at home. The Broncos allowed 485 total yards to the Chargers at Mile High last season, but also got a 26/45, 248 yard with 3 TD performance from QB Drew Lock. 2021 starter Teddy Bridgewater has 4 TD passes total in the last four games, so getting into a shootout doesn’t seem ideal in the week 12 Chargers at Broncos game.
Week 12 Chargers at Broncos Pick
LAC is a -3 point road favorite in a divisional game, with an opponent whose two meetings with last season were decided by 4 total points. Herbert is more inconsistent than he looks, and the Broncos defense did do a good job of holding Dak Prescott to 19/39 passing two weeks ago in a win at Dallas.
Broncos 24 – Chargers 20
Free Pick: Broncos +3