The Denver Broncos believe they will have injured starting quarterback Trevor Siemian for Thursday’s game at AFC West rival San Diego, but they aren’t going to have their head coach. Meanwhile, what inventive new way could the snakebitten Chargers possibly find to blow another game this season? And could Thursday be the last on the sideline for their coach? Denver opened as a field-goal favourite on Sports Interaction NFL odds.
Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers
Point spread: Broncos -3 > Broncos -3.5
Date: Thursday, Oct. 13, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
The Broncos (4-1) were the last AFC team to lose as they were upset at home by Atlanta in Week 5, 23-16. The Denver defense held that high-powered Falcons offense pretty well in check. Julio Jones had a 300-yard receiving game in Week 4 for the Falcons but was held to two catches for 29 yards. Matt Ryan was coming off a 503-yard, four-TD game but was held to 267 yards and one TD by that excellent Denver defense.
It was on the offensive side where the Broncos lost the game. Starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was inactive with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Rookie first-round pick Paxton Lynch thus made his first career start and was very uneven. He was 23-for-35 for 223 yards with a touchdown and interception. He missed a few wide open receivers and was sacked six times. The Broncos also struggled to run the ball for a third game in a row even though Atlanta was one of the NFL’s worst defensive teams the first four weeks. Denver has really missed starting right tackle Donald Stephenson and blocking tight end Virgil Green, who have each missed the past three games. Green thinks he can return Thursday.
Siemian is expected back on Thursday, but Coach Gary Kubiak won’t be at the game. He was hospitalized after Sunday’s loss and was diagnosed with a complex migraine condition. It is the second time in the last four seasons Kubiak has left a stadium in an ambulance. In 2013, Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke at halftime of a game against the Colts. The Broncos expect him back at work next Monday but special teams coach Joe DeCamillis will be the interim head coach in San Diego. Team president John Elway wanted to leave his offensive and defensive coordinator in place.
Denver is 4-1 against the spread this season and 3-2 over/under.
San Diego Chargers
If this wasn’t a short-week turnaround for the Chargers, it’s quite possible that embattled coach Mike McCoy might have been fired on Monday. San Diego could be 5-0 instead of 1-4, but the team keeps imploding late in games. On Sunday, it was in a 34-31 loss in Oakland. The Chargers, who led 24-16 midway through the third quarter, had what appeared to be an easy tying field-goal attempt from 35 yards out with two minutes to go. But rookie holder Drew Kaser flat out dropped a perfect snap. The team’s four losses are by a total of 14 points.
“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something like that happens,” McCoy said of the botched hold.
Kaser also was responsible for a 16-yard punt that led to an Oakland touchdown. The Chargers turned it over four times in losing a 10th straight game against AFC West foes, tying a franchise record set in 1997-98. Overall, San Diego has lost eight fumbles on the year, which are the most in the NFL. The loss ruined another big game from Philip Rivers, who threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns. On the bright side, the team’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, defensive end Joey Bosa, made his NFL debut off a hamstring injury and had two sacks.
San Diego is 3-2 ATS and 4-1 O/U.
Broncos vs. Chargers Prediction
Denver swept the Chargers last year and has won five straight and nine of 10 in the series. Last year in San Diego it was by a final score of 17-3. If Siemian does indeed start, I’d give the alternate line of 2.5 points. Denver has covered five straight in San Diego. But if it’s Lynch, take the alternate number of 3.5 and go under the total. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.