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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket

Prediction: DEN 24, SD 34

Here's the final game of the season, playing as the late game. And it has great meaning too as long as you only consider within the AFC West and not how it matches up to the rest of the NFL. Simply enough, the winner here takes the AFC West and gets a chance to be beaten by the Colts who have won their last eight games. Denver has squandered a two game lead and now has to play in San Diego where the Chargers have a chance to win the division and yet not have a winning record.

Denver won 39-38 when the Chargers came to Denver back in week two.

Denver Broncos (8-7)
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD 39-38 +1.5 45.5
3 NO 34-32 -5.5 51.5
4 @KC 19-33 -9.5 46.5
5 TB 16-13 -3 48
6 JAX 17-24 -3.5 48
7 @NE 7-41 +3 46.5
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA 17-26 -3 49
10 @CLE 34-30 +3 46
11 @ATL 24-20 +5.5 51
12 OAK 10-31 -9.5 42.5
13 @NYJ 34-17 +7.5 47.5
14 KC 24-17 -9 48
15 @CAR 10-30 +6.5 45
16 BUF 23-30 -6.5 45
17 @SD - - -
DEN @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     310,3
RB Tatum Bell 30 30  
TE Tony Scheffler   70,1  
WR Eddie Royal   90,1  
WR Brandon Stokley   40  
WR Brandon Marshall   70,1  
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: Denver has struggled with consistency all season long and have sent no less than seven running backs to injured reserve. The inability to beat the visiting Bills who were on their own five game losing streak says about all you need to know about this squad. They have been wracked with injury and failed to offer any consistency. They have lost five of their last seven favored games but did win three of the last four games as the underdog. The problem here is that the Broncos do not travel as well and are on a downturn unlike the Chargers.

Quarterback: Jay Cutler is currently #3 in the NFL with 4210 passing yards and his 24 scores are respectable though only 7th best in the league. With a constantly changing backfield, the onus has been on Cutler to win games and he has certainly been the most reliable player of the group. He has scored in every road game this year and passed 300 yards four times away from Denver.

Cutler passed for 350 yards and four scores in the last meeting with the Chargers.

Running Backs: Yeah, this could be better. Since Selvin Young had a ruptured disk in his neck, he was placed on injured reserve and there is a question if the Broncos would bother to bring him back in 2009. P.J. Pope suffered a torn hamstring and becomes the seventh running back to fall on injured reserve. That leaves Tatum Bell, Cory Boyd from the practice squad and maybe Alex Haynes who they just re-signed on Monday.

Expect a lot of passing this week.

Wide Receivers: Brandon Marshall had 18 catches for 166 yards and one score in the last meeting with the Chargers (yes, 18, remember?) but has only scored twice on the road this year and has never managed more than 89 yards. Eddie Royal had five receptions for 37 yards and one score versus the Chargers but has been more productive in road games. He has three scores away from Denver and his best five games were on the road as well. Brandon Stokley had 47 yards against the Chargers this year and that's been on the high side for him in most games.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler had six catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers back in week two and has never scored since. On the road his contribution varies greatly with the last four games being 90 yards then no catches then 90 yards and then no catches.

Match Against the Defense: Forget the rushing here. The Chargers are already decent against the run and the Broncos are down to Tatum Bell who must be freaked out now knowing he has less than a week before suffering a painful season-ending injury.

Look for tons of passing from Cutler who will make no pretense of having a running game. The Chargers have been poor against the pass and allowed most visitors two or three passing scores in San Diego. There is no team worse against the tight ends than San Diego so Scheffler should come out of his shell once again and the wideouts both come up big.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 2 21 4 4 14 32
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 31 6 17 32 12 9

San Diego Chargers (7-8)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN 38-39 -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ 48-29 -9 44
4 @OAK 28-18 -7 46
5 @MIA 10-17 -6.5 45.5
6 NE 30-10 -6 44.5
7 @BUF 14-23 -1 46.5
8 @NO 32-37 -3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 20-19 -15 48
11 @PIT 10-11 +4 43
12 IND 20-23 -3 49.5
13 ATL 16-22 -5 49
14 OAK 34-7 -10 43
15 @KC 22-21 -5 46.5
16 @TB 41-24 +3.5 42.5
17 DEN - - -
SD vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     270,2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 80,1 30  
TE Antonio Gates   80,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   70,1  
WR Legedu Naanee   30  
WR Chris Chambers   40  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: Unbelievably the Chargers have finally had breaks go their way and now are within reach of the AFC West title even though a win still only gets them to 8-8 and pretty much ticks off all the other teams in the league that have to play in divisions not stocked with flops. A three game winning streak is on the line and the Chargers are at home in control of their own destiny with a chance to not only advance to the playoffs but to knock off the hated Broncos. It's just all so Christmasy.

Quarterback: Philip Rivers only has 3802 passing yards to rank #5 in the NFL but his 32 passing touchdowns are tops in the league. They are also a sign that LaDainian Tomlinson is not the same anymore as well. Rivers passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns in Denver in his best game of the year. He he has managed two or more scores in all but one home game and playing the Broncos is always outside the records anyway.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson's fall from the elite has been consistent this year with only two games over 100 rushing yards (and barely) and just eight rushing scores. Tomlinson rushed for only 26 yards in the previous game with the Broncos and has not been over 91 rushing yards in any home game this year. It's not that Tomlinson is bad, it's just that he's only average now.

Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson is wrapping up a season of amazing stats considering he shares the limelight with so many other players. Jackson has 57 catches for 1051 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. He caught six passes for 73 yards in the previous meeting with the Broncos. Chris Chambers is little more than a tight end now that struggles to reach 30 yards in any game and has not scored since week three. He only had one catch for six yards in the game in Denver.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates comes off his first multiple score game of the year but his eight touchdowns - second only to Gonzo's nine - are balanced by only 655 yards on the year. Around 44 yards per game on average. Gates had four catches for 61 yards in Denver this year. He's been more effective scoring at home with six of the eight touchdowns.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos rushing defense is lagging the league and Tomlinson could put together a good showing here even if it doesn't reach the meteoric heights of past years. Look for a score and good rushing totals.

River and Cutler have some bad blood between them so rely on Rivers wanting to score here. Champ Bailey is expected back from his groin injury finally but no telling how well he will play or if the groin holds up. Look for Gates to turn in a score and very nice yardage here and even Jackson to still have a decent game even if Bailey is stuck on him. This is for all the marbles and Rivers is at home. I like a defensive score here as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 5 12 14 7 10 16
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 13 28 12 26 29 13

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