Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Pick & Prediction DEC 27TH 2020

Complete TV: CBS SoFi Stadium Inglewood
453Broncos Denver
454Chargers Los Angeles
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-2.5 -105
ML: 108
ML: -128
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The Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers are only playing for pride and draft positioning Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., but that doesn't mean the AFC West rivals don't have anything to celebrate.

Both can boast of having a pair of Pro Bowl players. Linebacker Bradley Chubb and safety Justin Simmons were named to the squad from Denver, while defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receiver Keenan Allen represent the Chargers.

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It's a small consolation for teams that had hoped to be playing well into January. Instead they look to the future with their young quarterbacks showing the potential to become franchise mainstays.

For the Chargers (5-9), Justin Herbert stepped into the starting role in Week 2 after Tyrod Taylor was injured in the first week of the season. Herbert has been solid in his rookie season, throwing for 3,781 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushing for another four in 13 games.

Herbert has earned the respect of Broncos coach Vic Fangio.

"Very, very impressed with him -- big arm, big body, fast, strong in the pocket, hard to get down, has really run their offense with a great command," Fangio said Wednesday. "I think their offensive coaches have done a good job bringing him along. He's been very, very impressive."

Herbert is coming off one of his best games of the season. He passed for 314 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another in an overtime win over the Las Vegas Raiders. It was L.A.'s second successive victory after dropping eight of the previous 10.

Herbert beat the Raiders with Allen, his top receiver, limited with a hamstring injury. Allen didn't practice Wednesday and could be a game-time decision Sunday.

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Herbert's opposite number, Drew Lock, hasn't put up the same numbers but Denver (5-9) thinks it has found its quarterback after four seasons of searching. Lock has thrown just 14 TD passes and 2,330 yards in 11 games, but one of his best outings came against the Chargers on Nov. 1.

The Broncos rallied to erase a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit, winning it on Lock's touchdown pass to KJ Hamler as time expired. Two weeks ago, he had a stunning performance against Carolina, when he was 21-for-27, 280 yards and 4 TDs in a 32-27 triumph.

He struggled last week against Buffalo but hopes to bounce back to finish the season strong.

He'll have to do it against a former teammate who also wants to finish out the year on a high note. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr., a key member of Denver's defense that led the team to the Super Bowl 50 title, has battled injuries in his first year with the Chargers. In Week 3 he suffered a high ankle sprain, a low ankle sprain, a broken toe and a bruised foot, missing seven games.

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He returned Nov. 29. By then L.A.'s playoff hopes were slim but the former All-Pro wanted to play.

"Most guys would have been done for the year," Harris said this week. "I was motivated to try to do whatever I can to get back and help this team."

The Broncos will get help with the return of kicker Brandon McManus, who was placed on the COVID-19 /reserve list for close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. His one-game replacement, Taylor Russolino, missed a field goal and two extra points.

--Field Level Media

Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Recap DEC 27TH 2020

Phillip Lindsay rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown Sunday as the Denver Broncos upset the Los Angeles Chargers 20-13 in Carson, Calif., presenting Vic Fangio with his first win as an NFL coach.

Denver (1-4) led 17-0 at halftime and did just enough to hold off Los Angeles (2-3) after the break. Its only points in the second half came on Brandon McManus' 46-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining, providing a 20-10 lead.

Rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin drew the Chargers within seven points on a 32-yard field goal with 10 seconds left, but the Broncos recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the outcome.

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 14 of 20 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Denver, which outgained Los Angeles 350-246.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers endured a rough day, hitting on 32 of 48 passes for just 211 yards and tossing two interceptions. Los Angeles had two turnovers inside the 2-yard line, fumbling out the end zone and throwing an interception in the end zone from the 2.

The Broncos thoroughly dominated the first half, beginning with the afternoon's first possession. The Broncos ripped off a 75-yard drive in seven plays, capped when Lindsay scored on a 4-yard run just 3:54 into the game.

It became 14-0 with 4:58 to play in the quarter when Flacco and Courtland Sutton combined for a 70-yard touchdown pass, the kind of big play Denver's offense didn't produce often enough during an 0-4 start to the season. Its longest play entering the day was 53 yards.

McManus upped the margin to 17-0 with a 40-yard field goal with 5:17 left in the first half. The Broncos' defense made the lead last into halftime, coming up with a goal-line stand as Kareem Jackson forced an Austin Ekeler fumble inside the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal after he caught Rivers' pass. The ball went out the end zone for a touchback.

The Chargers frittered away another great chance in the third quarter when Rivers tossed an interception to Alexander Johnson in the end zone. But Desmond King got the Chargers on the board with 31 seconds remaining in the third, returning a Colby Wadman punt 68 yards for a touchdown.

--Field Level Media