Monday Night Football: Broncos vs. Charg

When planning out how the conclusion to the NFL betting card for Week 6 would shape up, this matchup between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers couldn’t have been scripted any better. ESPN has to be happy with this matchup.

On one side of the field, an AFC West team that has surprised many with its .500 start and defensive struggles, desperately seeking to generate something positive out of its second divisional game of the year. And then on the other, an opponent that has already established dominance in the West with wins at home and abroad and looks to this game as a chance to prove to a national TV audience that they are indeed for real.

It all sounds about right; only thing is that somebody forgot to let the Broncos in on the plan.

In a complete role reversal, Denver has busted out of the gate this season with a 5-0 SU/ATS start. Critics shot holes in the record at 3-0, citing the win at Cincinnati as fluke and the triumphs over Cleveland and Oakland as compulsory. But come from behind victories the past two weeks against Dallas and a New England silenced most detractors. The Patriots response to that overtime loss in Denver – a 59-0 blowout vs. Tennessee on Sunday – quieted the rest.

Online sportsbooks have the odds on this one set at -3.5 on the home side Chargers heading into Monday’s betting action. San Diego’s 5-1 record vs. Denver in the past six meetings also had to be taken into account.

Denver’s defense has been the real story this year, led by linebacker Elvis Dumervil (five sacks) and inspired by a rejuvenated Brian Dawkins on the back end. It’s taken the heat off QB Kyle Orton, allowing him to pad a now very impressive 26-12 record as a starter by simple managing the football game, not win it on his arm alone.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers has thrived under the Monday Night lights, posting a 4-0 record and a sparkling 106.9 passer rating, but San Diego will need its 32nd ranked run-game to come around if it hopes to compete against Denver.

Betting on the Broncos D to keep opponents in check has produced a perfect record of five-straight picks on the "Under" and against this Charger team that cranked out 52 points against them in Week 17, capping a miserable 2008 season, revenge is the order of the day.

San Diego is fully rested off its bye week and Denver has a bye on-deck. The Broncos used to play well before a bye (11-2 ATS) but they are 0-2 SU/ATS the past two years, giving up 82 combined points in those losses. Offensive dominated both meetings last year as these hated rivals combined for 150 total points.

This is the first of three-straight divisional games for San Diego but this does not shape up as a look-ahead spot for either team. More likely, this should turn into one of the hardest hitting Monday games bettors have been treated to all year.

NFL Picks: The Broncos season has been very impressive, but I lean to the Chargers laying -3 (buy the hook), as they get the job done at home on Monday night football.

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