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Chargers vs. Denver Broncos: Betting lines, odds and picks against the spread


The 2022 NFL season ends for one Los Angeles team on Sunday, while the other prepares to hit the road for the wild-card weekend. The Rams will look to end on a high note and potentially play spoiler against the Seattle Seahawks, while the Chargers will hope to stay healthy and maintain a grasp on the No. 5 seed against the Denver Broncos.

Chargers at Denver Broncos (-3, 40)

It has to be a little shocking to see the Broncos favored over the Chargers here, but there are tons of questions about who will play this week for Los Angeles. Maintaining the No. 5 seed is important because facing the AFC South champion is a much better draw than facing the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals or Baltimore Ravens.

Coach Brandon Staley said on Monday that he plans to win the game and that there is an advantage to staying as the No. 5 seed. If Staley is telling the truth and the Chargers look to be close to full strength here, this line is likely to swing wildly. However, the Chargers will already know the outcome of the Bengals vs. Ravens game in the 10 a.m. PST window, so it may not be necessary for the Chargers to play everybody. If the Bengals beat the Ravens — and they are a touchdown favorite to do so — then the Chargers are going to rest every key player because a loss won’t matter.

In other words, handicapping this game before knowing what happens in the Ravens game is a fool’s errand. If you think that the Ravens will upset the Bengals and force the Chargers to play everybody, then betting +23 makes some sense. If you think the Bengals will win as the line implies, betting the Broncos -3 makes some sense, but the line already seems to assume that Justin Herbert and other important pieces won’t be playing.

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If you have a lot of faith in Chase Daniel and the second-team defense, just wait until the line gets pushed up on the Denver side and then take the Chargers. There are so many moving parts in Week 18 that very few games are cut-and-dry handicaps and this is one of them.

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