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Broncos @ Chargers betting preview: Ekeler to lead L.A. to victory on MNF

Austin Ekeler

Sunday Night Football exceeded all expectations in the divisional clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. If you followed this space you knew that Cooper Rush was about to come back down to Earth and make his first mistakes of the season. He made numerous, and we cruised to a Michael Gallup receiving yards under as a result. Depending on what number you got on the game total (there were a few sportsbooks out there with 43.5 as the total) then you hit our under play as well. Let’s stay hot on Monday night.

This is not a recording, we are once again talking about the Russell Wilson-led Broncos in the prime-time slate. Denver will appear on your television screens in this spot for the fourth time in six weeks. And yes, we will be watching and throwing money on it.

The Broncos are coming off a long layoff after their highly exciting 12-9 loss against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, pushing their record to 2-3 (1-4 ATS). The Chargers have been a puzzling team to watch so far and are coming off a barnburner against the Cleveland Browns, a game in which they won 30-28 to move to 3-2 (4-1 ATS).

The Chargers’ run game finally found its footing against the Cleveland Browns, with Austin Ekeler having the best game of his season, handling 16 carries for 173 yards and a touchdown. Joshua Kelley also chipped in with 4.9 yards per carry. Los Angeles’ offense has been humming lately, dropping 64 points over their last two weeks, and averages the second-most passing yards per game in the league (291.2) under Justin Herbert. Will they be able to continue this at home against one of the best defenses in the NFL, though?

This will be the first time the Broncos have been hit with a healthy and balanced attack this season. Coming into Monday, Denver had allowed the least amount of yards in the league. However, those yards have come in games against the Colts, Texans, and 49ers - all three teams are either in the bottom five for passing or rushing yards in the NFL. This will be their biggest test by far, on the road, against a team coming into its own. What’s worse for Denver is that linebacker Josey Jewell will be held out of the contest. The 27-year-old is not only a huge part of this rushing defense, but he leads the team in tackles and is the eighth-best linebacker against the rush, according to Pro Football Focus. Expect this rushing offense to move the ball between the hash marks with Ekeler and Kelley each having a solid game on the ground. Ekeler’s number is currently sitting at just 59.5. He’s amassed over 300 yards from scrimmage over the last two games. I’m jumping on that and hitting the over for a running back who will be a big part of the offense; Los Angeles ran the ball a season-high 49% of the time last week and will likely look to do so again against Denver with Jewell out.

On the other side of the ball for the Chargers, their run defense is one of the worst in the game, giving up 124 rushing yards to opposing running backs per contest - the fifth-worst mark in the league. The only silver lining here is that the Broncos’ running back room is banged up. Javonte Williams is out and Melvin Gordon has neck and rib issues, which will thrust Mike Boone into the feature back role. The Chargers might actually look like a middling rush defense on Monday night because of it.

It’s not breaking news to tell you that Denver’s passing attack is also atrocious - only one offense in the NFL scores less than these Broncos, who average just 15 points per game. I’m trusting Herbert in a divisional game to cover the spread - 20-plus points has been more than enough to crush Denver this season. The Chargers are ninth in the league in points per game, averaging 24.4.


  • Chargers -4 (-115 at Bet365)
  • Austin Ekeler over 59.5 rushing yards (-116 at NorthStar Bets)

Piggy-backing off of Boone’s usage, I think he hits the over on his rush yards come Monday night. With Gordon being banged up, along with his fumbling issues - he’s fumbled in three of five games this year and four times overall - the Broncos will look to the sure-handed Boone around the goal line and throughout the contest. Boone went from three attempts two weeks ago to seven just last week, and has been efficient with every touch, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He also saw 41% of snaps a week ago. We’ve documented the Chargers’ issues as a rush defense; they are also 29th in EPA/rush and have given up three 100-yard days already this year (Damien Pierce, James Robinson, and Nick Chubb). Expect Boone to not only have a bigger role, but to take advantage of that porous unit. Let’s have a night come Monday and win some cash together.

Bet: Boone over 27.5 rushing yards (-113 at Caesars Sportsbook)