No NFL team has clinched a division title in the 2014 season, but the Denver Broncos (10-3) have a chance to do just that in Week 15. Peyton Manning and Co. will visit the San Diego Chargers (8-5), who can still win the AFC West or a wild-card spot.
Denver has attained a two-game lead by playing nearly perfect in their divisional games. They are 4-0 against AFC West teams, winning by an average of 14.5 points per game, including a 35-21 win over San Diego in Week 8.
The Chargers had no answer for the Broncos’ offense in their head-to-head matchup, allowing Manning to throw for 286 yards and a 124.2 passer rating. Denver also ran the ball 30 times for 139 yards.
Manning has been very good in every divisional game. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions against the Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Even though he was picked off twice against the Raiders, he threw a season-high five scores.
San Diego is 2-2 in the AFC West, and even with a win on Sunday, their best chance to make the postseason remains in the wild-card race. Sharing the same record with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, the tiebreaker has the Chargers as the No.6 seed in the conference. The team’s Week 13 victory in Baltimore looms large, as they fight to get into the playoffs.
Philip Rivers was very good against the Ravens, throwing for 383 yards and three touchdowns, and San Diego will likely need another big performance from their starter. The quarterback has posted six triple-digit passer ratings this season, all of which have resulted in wins for the Chargers. San Diego is 0-4 when Rivers fails to post a passer rating of greater than 83.4.
While the contest features two of the best quarterbacks in football, the running game should play a major role in the outcome. Denver’s C.J. Anderson has emerged as a top running back in recent weeks, totaling 335 rushing yards in Week 12 and Week 13, and rushing for three scores last week.
The Broncos boast one of the league’s best run defenses, ranking second by allowing just 72.8 yards on the ground per game. Denver has allowed 108.7 rushing yards per game in their three losses.
Even though Denver has proven to be the better team in 2014, San Diego has a chance at home. The Broncos are just 3-3 on the road, and they’ve lost by an average of 14.3 points in their defeats.
San Diego is a four-point underdog at home, and the over/under at Las Vegas casinos is 51. The Chargers are 1-1 in 2014 when getting points at home.
Prediction: Denver over San Diego, 27-20