Week Six of the NFL season is capped Monday night in a marquee matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos with first-place in the AFC West on the line.
San Diego (3-2) is coming off a 31-24 loss at the New Orleans Saints Sunday night as slight underdogs, once again done in by disappointing fourth-quarter breakdowns on both sides of the ball. The Broncos hung around, but were ultimately no match in a 31-24 home loss to the New England Patriots as home underdogs last week.
The NFL odds say this game should be a barn-burner. San Diego is a slight 1.5-point home favorite with the over/under listed at 49.5 points.
Although this will be San Diego's first time facing Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform, the Chargers are very familiar with the future Hall of Famer. While a member of the Colts, Manning was beaten five of the last six times he played San Diego, which included a playoff game.
The Chargers have started the season much better than in recent years, but remain a team that is hard to back with much conviction because of their inconsistency. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is having a solid year and it was good to see oft-injured running back Ryan Matthews play well against the Saints when receiving significant playing time for the first time this season. Matthews and the Chargers may be able to move the ball on the ground again this week as the Broncos are allowing 120.2 yards a game on the ground to rank 21st in the NFL.
If that's the case, San Diego will be tough to beat. Norv Turner's offense is predicated on getting production from the running game, which then will allow the down-field passing game he is known for.
This is obviously a huge divisional game for both teams, but a win here by San Diego will put them squarely in the driver's seat for the AFC West crown. The home crowd figures to be loud and rowdy Monday night and that could hamper the Broncos no-huddle attack with Manning. Look for the Chargers to get their signature win of the young season and cover the 1.5 points.
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