Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Broncos at Chargers how to watch: TV, live stream, odds, pick as AFC West rivals battle for playoff lives

The Los Angeles Chargers blew a golden opportunity last week to control their playoff fate, falling to the Houston Texans — and out of one of the three wild card spots in the conference. Los Angeles is on the outside looking in regarding the AFC wild card race, needing to win out — and get some help — in order to reach the postseason. 

While the Chargers are on the wrong end of a four-way tiebreaker, getting to 10 wins should propel Los Angeles toward a playoff berth. The first task is to beat a Denver Broncos team that is still in the AFC playoff race, yet their playoff hopes are dwindling. Denver needs to win its final two games and get significant help in order to reach the playoffs. A loss to the Chargers will basically eliminate the Broncos — and the same can be said regarding the Chargers. 

This AFC West battle is essentially a playoff game as both the Broncos and Chargers look to avoid elimination in Week 17. Here’s a preview of Sunday’s showdown: 

How to watch

Date: Sunday, Jan. 2 | Time: 4:05 p.m. ET

Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)

TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (try for free)

Follow: CBS Sports App

Odds: Chargers -6.5, O/U 45.5

Key matchups

Broncos run game vs. Chargers run defense

Denver owned Los Angeles on the ground in the Week 12 victory, rushing for 147 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns (averaged 4.5 yards per carry). Where the Broncos really found success against the Chargers was on the right side of the field, attacking that side on 42% of their run plays and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The Broncos have averaged 4.8 yards per rush to the right this season, seventh-most in the NFL.

The Chargers have one of the worst run defenses in football, allowing 4.7 yards per rush this season — the fourth-most in the NFL. Los Angeles has allowed 4.7 yards per rush to the right, the 10th-most in the NFL. The Charges have allowed 140.3 rush yards per game, the fourth-most in the league, while Denver is 13th in the league in rush yards per game at 116.7

Look for Denver to attack Los Angeles to the right again and control the temp of the game on the ground. 

Justin Herbert vs. pressure

Herbert threw for 303 yards with two touchdowns in the Week 12 loss, but also threw two interceptions after facing relentless pressure from the Broncos pass rush. He was pressured on 19 dropbacks, the most he’s seen in a game this season.

Herbert completed 7 of 15 passes for 99 yards with one touchdown, one interception, while being sacked three times under pressure. This was an unusual game for the Broncos in getting pressure on the quarterback, as Denver has gotten pressure on the quarterback on 29% of dropbacks this year (12th-lowest in NFL).

When facing pressure this year, Herbert is one of the best in the league. Herbert has a 54% completion rate (10th-highest in NFL), seven passing touchdowns (tied for sixth in NFL) and one interception (tied for fewest in NFL) this season. The Week 12 matchup was more than an anomaly for Herbert than the norm, which will be important to monitor this week. 

Prediction

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Chargers -7.5

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Chargers need a bounce-back game, yet blew that opportunity last week to the Texans. Denver isn’t the easiest “get right” opponent, as Los Angeles hasn’t been able to stop the run all year. With Drew Lock expected to start at quarterback again, the Broncos will look to attack the Chargers on the ground in order to set up Lock on play action. The Chargers need to get rid of the ball quick and eliminate the penalties in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. At the end of the day, the Chargers offense should score enough to get past the Broncos. 

Chargers 30, Broncos 23 

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