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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: DEN 17, SDC 27

The Chargers have won the AFC West and now have nothing to play for other than a shot at the #3 seed which means they get beaten in Indianapolis instead of New England in the playoffs. The Chargers offense has been on fire lately and they are 6-1 at home this year and already won 41-3 in Denver during week five. The Broncos are just 2-5 on the road. This is the final Monday night game of the year. Bet they thought it would be more interesting than it ended up to be.

Denver Broncos (6-8)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 15-14 -3.5 37
2 OAK 23-20 -10 37.5
3 JAC 14-23 -3 35.5
4 @IND 20-38 +10 46.5
5 SD 3-41 +1 43
6 BYE - - -
7 PIT 31-28 +3.5 38.5
8 GB 13-19 -3 44
9 @DET 7-44 +3 45.5
10 @KC 27-11 +3 37.5
11 TEN 34-20 -2.5 38
12 @CHI 34-37 +2.5 41
13 @OAK 20-34 -3 41.5
14 KC 41-7 -6.5 37.5
15 @HOU 13-31 +1.5 47
16 @SD   +8.5 47
17 MIN 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
DEN at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     260,2
RB Travis Henry 40 10  
RB Selvin Young 60 10  
TE Tony Scheffler   40,1  
WR Javon Walker   30  
WR Glenn Martinez   60  
WR Brandon Marshall   80,1  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Broncos Jekyll and Hyde persona hasn't changed all season (though a bit more Jekyll as it were). The loss in Houston was characteristic of the Broncos since Cutler had a career game the previous week against a good KC secondary and then couldn't get it done against the Texans. This makes the game this week meaningless since the Broncos cannot catch up to the Chargers who really cannot do anything to improve their seeding anyway. It was unlikely that the Broncos were heading into postseason play anyway, but now the final two games have no importance at all.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler still has growing pains to go through. After coming off a four touchdown performance against the Chiefs, he only managed 254 yards and one score with five sacks in Houston. That is pretty much par for the course since Cutler has thrown for 12 scores in seven home games but only produced six touchdowns in his seven road games. He remains usually very solid on yardage and has only thrown for three interceptions this year, but he just struggles to produce scores away from Denver. In Oakland in week 13, he had no touchdowns.

Cutler has a sore knee following the game last Thursday but early news is that it will not be an issue this week. He has 11 days to recuperate.

Cutler passed for 232 yards and no scores against the Chargers in week five.

Running Backs: The Broncos have returned to a committee backfield using both Travis Henry and Selvin Young but it appears to only damage what Young could do on his own. For the three weeks that Henry has returned, he has 35 carries for 100 yards. He did score three short touchdowns but has averaged only 2.9 yards per carry. Compare that to Young who rushed 32 times for 208 times in those three games for an average of 6.5 yards per rush. Denver prefers Henry near the goal line but Young has been far more productive than Henry who has not rushed for more than 65 yards since week four.

Henry gained 65 yards on 16 carries against the visiting Chargers this year.

Wide Receivers: With Brandon Stokley ailing and Javon Walker never returning to full health, Cutler has come to heavily lean on Brandon Marshall almost to the point of ignoring all other receivers. Marshall has been thrown 29 passes with 21 catches for 192 yards and two scores over just the last two games. That dwarfs what any other receiver is getting and in Houston it was little more than look for Marshall on every pass play until later in the game when he mixed in Scheffler. Marshall is having a great season but Javon Walker has done little to build his case to be retained for next year when he salary cost shoots up. Walker only has three catches for 27 yards since showing up again in week 13.

Stokley has already missed practice this week. I will count him out for now and update as warranted.

Marshall caught seven passes for 72 yards versus the Chargers this season. Glenn Martinez turned in six catches for 70 yards but Stokley only had one catch.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler comes up his career best effort when he logged seven receptions for 100 yards and one score in the loss at Houston. He hasn't been used consistently this year but has usually produced around 30 yards or more in almost every game since midseason. The best two games of his career so far have come in the last two weeks in road efforts.

Daniel Graham suffered a high ankle sprain last week and likely will not play.

Scheffler had two receptions for 37 against the Chargers in week five.

Match Against the Defense: Denver had marginal success against the Chargers back in Denver and this game is shaping up to be even worse unless the Chargers opt to start resting players - which they say they will not do. Problem here is that there has only been one rushing score allowed to an opposing runner in San Diego this year and all but one runner ended up with less than 65 rushing yards there this year. Add in the split between Young and Henry and the prospect for a big game - or even a decent on - is dim this week.

Cutler faces a secondary that held him without a score the first time and this week should be little better. Look for two passing touchdowns that likely favors Scheffler the most though Marshall can never be counted out. This game could end up with nice trash time which would help prop up the stats in the passing game.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 14 15 15 9 12 18
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 12 18 17 27 3 11


San Diego Chargers (9-5)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CHI 14-3 -5.5 42.5
2 @NE 14-38 +3 47
3 @GB 24-31 -5 43
4 KC 16-30 -13 38.5
5 @DEN 41-3 -1 43
6 OAK 28-14 -9.5 44
7 BYE - - -
8 HOU 35-10 -11 45
9 @MIN 17-35 -7 41
10 IND 23-21 +3.5 49
11 @JAC 17-24 +3 41
12 BAL 32-14 -9.5 38.5
13 @KC 24-10 -3.5 43
14 @TEN 23-17 -1 41
15 DET 51-14 -10.5 45.5
16 DEN   -8.5 47
17 @OAK 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
SDC vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     230,1
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 110,2 30  
TE Antonio Gates   50,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   60  
WR Craig Davis   30  
WR Chris Chambers   50  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Chargers have never looked better this season than in the trashing of the Lions when the second string was unstoppable. Now tied with the Steelers and Browns at 9-5, it is possible that the #3 seed ends up with San Diego and only having Denver and Oakland left on the schedule makes a very respectable 11-5 season for what started out 1-3. The Chargers claim to not plan on resting any players yet but last week had Tomlinson and Gates on the sideline for the entire second half. That is not impossible this week either.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers comes off a 142 yard, one touchdown performance last week thanks to the Lions laying down and the Chargers running all over them. But Rivers had three scores and 250 yards in the previous home game when the Ravens came to town and is now more limited by what the Chargers need and do not need - like getting him injured or wasting time passing when Tomlinson alone has been a monster lately. The Chargers did not pull Rivers from the game last week but he only threw 21 passes.

Rivers passed for 270 yards and two scores in Denver this year.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson has been in top form over the last three weeks and after scoring four times against the Chiefs and Titans, he logged two more in the Lions game on Sunday along with 116 rushing yards on 15 carries. It was so good that he was given off the second half so that Michael Turner could bruise his shoulder and give way to Darren Sproles who played like he was Mighty Mouse. Sproles ran for 122 yards and two scores much to the dismay of Tomlinson owners.

Tomlinson should have a good game here that could be another monster - if they leave him on the field long enough. One caveat here - Tomlinson tweaked his hamstring a little last week so they may want to rest him later in the game.

Tomlinson rushed for 67 yards on 21 carries but had 73 yards on only three receptions in Denver during week five.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers is a new addition since the last time the Broncos faced the Chargers and he has been solid in yardage every week even though he only has two scores in his eight games with San Diego. That has depressed the numbers for all other wideouts on the team but at least Chambers remains solid with around 70 receiving yards in most games.

Vincent Jackson turned three catches into 84 yards and a score in Denver this year.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates was nursing a bad back last week and only ended with one catch for eight yards but he caught seven passes for 113 yards and one score in Denver earlier this year. The Broncos are ranked worst against tight ends in the league, so Gates should bounce back this week if his back holds up.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos on the road should be easy pickings for Tomlinson and the bigger question is if he plays the full game with playoffs looming and his hamstring "tweaked". He should be good to go and HC Phillips said he intended to use LT this week and did not expect any issues from the hamstring. This is the week for Tomlinson owners to make the #1 pick in fantasy drafts turn into championships.

Rivers had a great game in the last matchup with the Broncos and Champ Bailey will draw Chambers. Expect at least one passing score here that should end up with Gates but anything more is a risk since the rushing game should be enough to secure this win.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 22 2 32 3 21 2
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 29 21 6 32 23 27

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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