Recommended Wager: Denver (+3.0) over LA Chargers

Denver @ LA Chargers
Recommended Wager: DEN +3.0
Strength: 2.64
Sizing: 1 unit

Key Injuries:
Denver Broncos: (Week 5 bye)
-K Brandon McManus (COVID-19) was INACTIVE week 15.
IR: WR Courtland Sutton (ACL – season ending), TE Albert Okwuegbunam (ACL – season ending), T Ja’Wuan James (opt out), DT Kyle Peko (opt out), DT Jurrell Casey (biceps — season ending), DT Mike Purcell (foot – season ending), OLB Von Miller (ankle), CB AJ Bouye (suspension), CB Bryce Callahan (foot), Slot CB Essang Bassey (knee – season ending)

Los Angeles Chargers: (Week 6 bye)
-RT Bryan Bulaga (concussion) was INACTIVE week 15 after missing practice all week.
-LB Denzel Perryman (back) was injured week 12 and INACTIVE weeks 13 – 15. He has not practiced since the injury.
-S Nasir Adderley (shoulder) was injured week 14. He was INACTIVE week 15 after missing practice Wednesday.
IR: TE Virgil Green (ankle), RT Trey Pipkins III (COVID-19), C Mike Pouncey (hip), DE Melvin Ingram III (knee — short term), LB Drue Tranquill (ankle), S Derwin James (knee)

Spread watching: The line is sitting at 3.0 with a total of 49.

This spread makes no sense: Just a quick note — unless you suffer from extreme recency bias, this spread makes zero sense. This is a bet I would have made even without a model — the Broncos are the better team getting 3.0 points.

Football Outsider’s Weighted DVOA:
DEN: -19.70%
LAC: -24.80%

PFF’s ELO:
DEN: -3.2
LAC: -4.5

ESPN’s FPI:
DEN: -4.1
LAC: -4.3

Last week, the Broncos brought piss to a shit fight against the Bills, losing 48-19 on prime time TV. Meanwhile, the Chargers beat the Raiders (against a back up QB) and Herbert looked fantastic (against a terrible defense). To make informed gambling decisions, you must look at as much data as possible. Falling victim to recency bias is a sure fire way to lose all your money.

Matchup breakdown: The Broncos offense sucks (32nd in DVOA, 31st in EPA/play) but are against an almost equally shitty Chargers defense (21st in DVOA, 12th in EPA/play, though EPA/play is inflated due to an easy schedule). Drew Lock is #bad at QB — he’s rocking a 56.9 PFF grade (36th in the league — it’s not good when you’re rank is more than the number of teams #math) — while completing 57.7% of his passes (-3.9% below expectation) and gaining 6.6 yards per attempt. Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and TE Noah Fant are all having fine seasons, but it simply doesn’t matter when your QB is this bad. With the offensive line, LT Garrett Bolles is one of the more egregious pro bowl snubs in the league while RG Graham Galsgow has also played well, but the other three are major weaknesses. With offensive line play, you tend to only be as good as your weakest link. The Chargers defense has Joey Bosa and basically nothing else — only a single defensive starter has a PFF grade above 70 (DE Uchenna Nwosu, 73.2). The two bring a decent pass rush, but every other facet of their defense is poor. This matchup is a suck fest.

The other side of the ball is a Chargers defense that ranks 19th in DVOA and 16th in EPA/play vs a Broncos defense that is 16th in DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. Justin Herbert is 18th in PFF grades (77.8) while completing 66.5% of his passes (+1.8% over expectation) and gaining 7.1 yards per attempt. Herbert ranks 7th in the league in aggressiveness percentage, which is a next gen stat that tracks how often QBs throw into tight coverage. He also isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field (7.5 aDOT), and as a result tends to be a boom or bust QB. He relies heavily on Keenan Allen, but Allen was extremely limited last week with a hamstring injury and isn’t practicing to start the week. Allen is typically a lock for double digit targets, but last week he had just 2 and only played on 24/66 snaps. Behind Allen, Hunter Henry and Mike Williams are typically the next men up — but Williams is battling a back issue and was also saw limited work last week. The offensive line is also flat out bad — like, really bad. With Bryan Bulaga (back) projected to remain out, I don’t have a nice thing to say about any of their projected starters. That’s bad news given that the Broncos are 10th this year in PFF pass rush grades, lead by edge rushers Bradley Chubb (57 pressures) and Malik Reed (31). The Broncos do struggle at cornerback, but Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons is a solid safety duo.

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