It’s another AFC West matchup on Monday night in Week 6 as Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos visit Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Monday, October 17, 2022 – 08:15 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
Last Time They Met
The Monday night matchup between AFC West rivals Las Vegas and Kansas City in Week 5 turned out to be a fabulous, down-to-the-wire game. Will we get the same when AFC West rivals Denver and the LA Chargers meet this Monday? I tend to doubt it.
Last season, of course, before Denver had Russell Wilson, the teams split with each winning at home. The Chargers were 34-13 winners over the Broncos in Week 17 to keep their Wild-Card hopes alive, although they wouldn’t make it. Justin Herbert threw touchdown passes to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen (more on him below). Andre Roberts returned a kick 101 yards for a score.
Denver went twice on fourth-and-goal inside the LA 5-yard line but came up short. The Broncos were without then-starting QB Teddy Bridgewater and several defensive starters. Drew Lock got the call under center and didn’t play too bad in going 18-for-25 for 245 yards and a TD to Noah Fant. Both Lock and Fant are now in Seattle as they were part of the Wilson trade.
Denver Broncos Analysis
Fans Want Hackett Out
A lot of Broncos fans already want first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett fired, and the former Packers offensive coordinator has made a lot of mistakes in his first year calling plays – he didn’t call them in Green Bay, head coach Matt LaFleur did.
"Nobody ever told me this was going to be easy," Hackett has said. "Taking this job, you knew there were going to be some ups and downs. It's going to be a roller coaster. I think that's something that I've embraced… I always want to get better and everything that I do. There is always going to be scrutiny.”
Carolina fired Matt Rhule on Monday and BetOnline has a prop on the next coach gone: Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury is +150 favorite followed by Hackett at +200. Already hearing one potential name if the new Broncos owners make a move: Stanford’s David Shaw.
Wilson Isn’t Cooking For Broncos
Despite the trade addition of Russell Wilson, the Broncos rank second-to-last in the NFL at 15.0 points per game. Denver has scored five points in the third quarter all season, and 16, 11, and 9 points in three home games.
Wilson reportedly is playing through a minor tear in his shoulder that is requiring injections but has no plans to take a game off. He had an absolutely terrible interception in Denver’s 12-9 home OT loss to Indianapolis on Thursday in Week 5.
It came with the game tied 9-9 and about two minutes left in the Colts' end zone. You just can’t get picked there. Why even throw it in the end zone when it was only third-and-4 at the Indy 13? On the season, Wilson is completing a career-worst 59.4% of his passes with only 4 TDs, 7.4 yards per attempt, and 16 sacks.
Denver lost two starters to a season-ending injury in the defeat: Offensive tackle Garett Bolles and cornerback Ronald Darby. Bolles' injury might force the Broncos to move toward some of their two-tight end and two-back looks.
Three players were designated to return from injured reserve this week, which means they can start practicing but doesn’t guarantee they will be ready for Monday: Safety Justin Simmons, cornerback Michael Ojemudia and tight end Greg Dulcich.
Los Angeles Chargers Analysis
Uncertainty in LA
Los Angeles is one of those teams that can beat anyone yet lose to anyone – see a 38-10 home loss to Jacksonville in Week 3. The Bolts have averaged 32.0 ppg in winning back-to-back games since. They got a bit lucky on Sunday in a 30-28 victory in Cleveland when Browns rookie kicker Cade York missed a 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.
Frankly, he shouldn’t even have been in a position to win the game. With LA on its own 46 and up 30-28, Coach Brandon Staley called a timeout. But instead of punting, he had quarterback Justin Herbert attempt a short pass on fourth-and-1 for Mike Williams that fell incomplete.
The winning percentage in going for it was 84.1%; the winning percentage to punt was 78.9%. Staley goes for it on fourth down more than any coach in the NFL but sometimes he does so stupidly. The Chargers are 5-of-11 on fourth-down conversions this season (45.5%, ranked 19th in NFL).
Herbert threw for 228 yards and a score, but wasn’t asked to do a ton as the Chargers rushed for a season-high 238 yards – they entered as one of the NFL’s worst rushing teams. Austin Ekeler, really more of a pass-catching back, had a career-high 173 yards rushing with a TD and also caught a TD pass.
Is not clear if Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen will be here as he hasn’t played since Week 1 due to a hamstring injury and not clear if he will be here. Allen wrote in a since-deleted tweet, "WTF are we doing" moments after Staley's fourth-down decision but has since met with the coach.
Offensive tackle Trey Pipkins suffered an MCL sprain vs. the Browns and that sounds serious but apparently, he will play Monday.
Pick and Prediction
The Chargers are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 vs. the AFC West and I like them here. I'm using Bookmaker as it’s the only book with -4.5 instead of -5.
Score Prediction: Broncos 20 - Chargers 27
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