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Michael Taylor 28th Dec 2008 - 10:45

The winner takes it all

Two weeks ago the Denver Broncos were AFC South untouchables but somehow, when they face the San Diego Chargers on the final day, they may have thrown it all away.

It has all gone so badly wrong for Mike Shanahan's Broncos in December as their bad form has coincided with a Chargers three-game winning streak, leaving the division wide open for San Diego to steal.

It is the most unlikely of final day scenarios after the season's events - the Broncos had been given no chance of winning the East over the Chargers prior to the season starting but, having marched to the top, there should have been no looking back.

Now, with the winner of this grudge match progressing to the play-offs and the loser taking nothing, it looks increasingly like all of Denver's hard work was for nothing.

San Diego are finally charging and, more importantly, LaDainian Tomlinson showed signs of being back to his best in the 41-24 win at Tampa Bay.

If the former five-time Pro Bowler can maintain his form in this match and the subsequent play-offs then we may be able to see why the Chargers were fancied for a good play-off run.

LT is the focal point of an immensly talented offence that also includes Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Kris Dielman and Vincent Jackson, which is enough to test the most stubborn of the NFL's defences.

In the betting we have given Denver little hope of matching up to San Diego and have priced the Broncos at 14/5 and the Chargers at 5/18, and this is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Denver's defence is shocking. In terms of points, yards, pass yards and rush yards allowed, the Broncos are ranked in the bottom five of the NFL in all categories.

It is true that Denver know how to put points on the board and, in Pro Bowl selection Jay Cutler, they have one of the top-three ranked passing quarterbacks in the NFL but offence is only one half of the game.

This also leads to point two; in the home loss against Buffalo last week the Broncos offered very little rushing threat, meaning San Diego can focus more on how to stop the passing game.

It is no secret that the Chargers are appaling against the throw but, with no rushing game, it seems unlikely that Cutler can play with maximum effect.

Finally, the Chargers have traditionally dominated at the Qualcomm Stadium against the Broncos, outscoring them 71-23 in the past two meetings.

It really should be San Diego all the way but you can expect the Broncos to get points on the board, making the 10/11 about over 50 total points look especially inviting.

Also, if Cutler is at his best, the +8 points we have given Denver on the spread could be good value at 10/11. The Chargers may be on fire but, if the past fifteen games have shown anything, it's that they are not invincible.

Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers - view all betting

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