Exactly one month ago Sunday, San Diego invaded Sports Authority Field at Mile High and walked away with a convincing 27-20 win over the Broncos as ten-point underdogs. “It taught us a lesson,” tight end Jacob Tamme said of last month’s loss. “We did kind of reboot after that and yes, I think we know that we need to play our best ball going forward and that’s what we’re planning on doing.” The compelling is whether the Chargers will once again have success limiting Peyton Manning, who averaged 352 passing yards with a 27-5 ratio and a 69% completion rate at home this season.
Denver takes the field with a prolific offense that is averaging 37.9 yards per game at 6.4 yards per play against teams that combine to allow just 5.8 yards per play to mediocre offensive squads. Denver’s aerial attack is averaging 8.1 yards per pass play against secondaries that would combine to allow just 7.0 yards per pass play. Overall, the Broncos are 1.1 yards per pass play and 0.6 yards per play better than average offensively this season, which is good enough to exploit a San Diego stop unit that is 0.6 yards per play worse than average (6.3 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.7 yards per play).
San Diego’s defense has had success against Peyton Manning & Co. due to the fact that its head coach, Mike McCoy, was Denver’s offensive coordinator between 2010 and 2012 before leaving to take over the Chargers’ top job this season. In addition, coach McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt deserve a lot of credit for revamping San Diego’s offense by reducing the deep ball while putting more emphasis on yards after the catch. San Diego’s new offense has reduced the number of sacks yielded by the offensive from 49 last year to 30 this season. Overall, San Diego’s offense is 0.5 yards per play better than average (6.1 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.6 yards per play), which gives the Chargers a 0.4 yards per play advantage offensively in this game.
From a technical point of view, NFL teams who won seven or fewer games the previous season are 0-15 SU and 3-12 ATS in playoff road games in the Divisional Round if they are coming off a Wild Card win. Moreover, home playoff teams off a regular season loss in their home finale are 18-5 SU and 15-8 ATS, including 3-0 SU and ATS versus an opponent off an upset win. The return for Wes Welker also cannot be overlooked as he is a key component to Denver’s offense. Welker has been out since suffering a concussion December 8 against Tennessee. Despite his absence, Welker finished second in the league with 18 receptions in the red zone, one behind Chargers running back Danny Woodhead. “A lot of times teams will decide to go ahead and double Wes,” said teammate Demaryius Thomas. “So absolutely, it opens up things for me. If I have single-man coverage, it’s something that I definitely enjoy and look forward to. Wes brings a lot to this offense and we’re excited to have him back.”
Pro Edge Sports Selection: Denver Broncos (-9) (-110)