Thursday’s nationally televised contest pitting the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos against the San Diego Chargers would hold even more water had the latter followed up the first 58 minutes of their games by avoiding being doused over the final two. After seeing three leads evaporate after the two-minute warning, the snake-bitten Chargers look to snap a 10-game skid versus AFC West rivals on Thursday when they host the Broncos.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” quarterback Philip Rivers said after San Diego was felled by a botch hold on a game-tying attempted field goal in a 34-31 setback to Oakland on Sunday. “You think, ‘Is there any other way we can find a way to do this?’ ” The path to right the ship will be tough versus Denver, which has won nine of the last 10 encounters between the clubs and is seething after absorbing its first loss of the season with a 23-16 setback to Atlanta. Quarterback Trevor Siemian (shoulder) is expected to be at the helm Thursday after sitting out versus the Falcons, but special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis will serve as interim coach with Gary Kubiak being diagnosed with a complex migraine condition.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The Broncos opened the betting week for this Thursday night contest as 2.5-point road favorites but were bet up to 3-point faves on Monday afternoon – which is where they sit now. The total opened at 45.5 and hasn’t moved all week. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Broncos (-2.5) – Chargers (+3) + home field (-3) = Broncos -2.5
Broncos – S J. Simmons (Prob Thurs, wrist), T D. Stephenson (Prob Thurs, calf), TE V. Green (Prob Thurs, calf), QB T. Siemian (Prob Thurs, shoulder), CB K. Webster (Ques Thurs, hamstring), LB D. Ware (Late Oct, elbow), DE V. Walker (I-R, knee), C S. Brenner (I-R, concussion).
Chargers – P D. Kaser (Prob Thurs, hip), G O. Franklin (Ques Thurs, knee), LB D. Perryman (Ques Thurs, shoulder), T J. Barksdale (Ques Thurs, foot), T K. Dunlap (Ques Thurs, undisclosed), G C. Hairston (Ques Thurs, groin), RB D. McCluster (Ques Thurs, hamstring), CB C. Mager (Ques Thurs, shoulder), CB B. Flowers (Out Thurs, concussion), CB J. Verrett (Out For Season, knee), S J. Addae (Late Oct, collarbone), LB N. Czubnar (I-R, knee), LB M. Te’o (I-R, achilles), RB D. Woodhead (I-R, knee), WR K. Allen (I-R, knee), WR J. Herndon (I-R, knee), DT Z. Carlis (I-R, knee), T T. Johnstone (I-R, undisclosed), RB B. Oliver (I-R, achilles), G D. Clark (I-R, knee), C C. Watt (Elig Week 7, knee), LB T. Marcordes (I-R, undisclosed), TE J. Cumberland (I-R, achilles), DT C. Wray (I-R, foot), NT S. Lissemore (I-R, shoulder), WR S. Johnson (I-R, knee).
WEATHER REPORT: This may come as a huge surprise…but it’s expected to be sunny with a zero percent chance of precipitation on Thursday evening in San Diego. Temperatures will be in the mid-70’s with humidity values hovering around 75 percent.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS, 3-2 O/U): Although the quarterback situation has been answered for Thursday, Denver still has many questions regarding its running game after it failed to exploit the Falcons’ 30th-ranked defense. C.J. Anderson has been unable to top 50 yards rushing in any of the last three games and mustered just three carries longer than four yards last week heading into a clash with the league’s eighth-best rushing defense (83.4 yards per contest). Demaryius Thomas has found the end zone in each of his last three games overall and had a touchdown reception in each of his last three meetings with San Diego.
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (1-4 SU, 3-2 ATS, 4-1 O/U): Rivers (NFL fourth-best 1,469 yards) is at the controls of the league’s second-ranked offense (30.4 points) and recorded his second four-touchdown performance of the season on Sunday, but four turnovers proved too much to overcome. Former first-round selection Melvin Gordon has struggled to find the handle on the ball, fumbling for the second time in as many weeks on Sunday and eighth time in 19 career games. “(Gordon) can’t put the ball on the ground,” coach Mike McCoy said via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “(His) fumbles won’t affect his usage now. He’s our back, and he’s going to get going.” The 23-year-old Gordon had trouble getting going in his previous encounter with Denver, fumbling twice while being held to 55 yards in a 17-3 setback on Dec. 6.
* Broncos are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 Thursday games.
* Chargers are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up loss.
* Chargers are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 home games.
* Over is 6-0 in Broncos last 6 games in Week 6.
* Under is 8-1 in Chargers last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings in San Diego.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing the Broncos with 64 percent of the picks on the road favorites. Over is leading the way in totals wagers with 57 percent of the selections. View full consensus data here.
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