After an exciting Sunday of action, we have one more opportunity to wager on professional football if we so choose. So which plays do our analysts like the most?
Betting analyst Anita Marks, ESPN analyst Seth Walder, fantasy and sports betting analysts André Snellings and Eric Moody, plus Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz provide their top plays.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
The Broncos look to get back on track Monday night against the Chargers in yet another AFC West battle. What are your thoughts on the total and spread? Who are you taking?
Schatz: Our viewpoint on the Denver offense is impacted by the fact that Russell Wilson's worst games have come on national television. He was better against Houston in Week 2 and particularly against Las Vegas in Week 4. The Broncos' offense has also been better when it's further away from the goal line; Denver is ranked 13th in passing DVOA outside the red zone. So I think there's going to be more offense in this game than we might expect, even with the Denver defense playing so well right now. Meanwhile, the Chargers have a top-10 offense by DVOA and the sixth-fastest pace in the league, which means more plays and more scoring. I like the Chargers to win, but wouldn't touch this spread. I will, however, go with over 45.5 on the total.
Snellings: I'll give the points to take the Chargers, as well as the under. The Broncos just can't get right on offense and have been unable to get into the end zone. The Chargers are getting healthier but will still be without Keenan Allen. They should win, but I'm not looking for any kind of offensive explosion here.
Walder: The FPI likes the Chargers by 8.3 points, which is well clear of the 4.5-point spread. That's even without taking into consideration that Wilson is a little banged up -- and I'm awfully inclined to agree. This is Justin Herbert against the third-worst offense in the NFL by expected points added per play. At some point, we have to believe what the Broncos are telling us: They are a poor offensive team. And yes, the advantage is flipped on the other side of the ball, but defense is much more variant from game to game than offense. All in all, there's good reason to back the Chargers here.
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Moody: The Broncos and Chargers are likely to play a low-scoring game. Wilson is playing through a shoulder injury, and in five games, he has completed just 59.4% of his passes with an 82.8 passer rating -- both career lows. After being limited in practice on Thursday, Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone are both listed as questionable. Allen will miss another game for the Chargers, but Los Angeles still ranks ninth in points per game (24.4). Denver's offensive woes are well known, with the team ranked 31st in points per game (15.0). My recommendation is to bet the under. The Chargers are a balanced team and should cover the spread. Denver has lost six consecutive Monday Night Football games and is 1-7 against the spread in its past eight road games.
Marks: I'm playing the under on Monday night. Denver's offense is averaging 16 points per game and it has the worst red zone offense in the NFL. The Broncos' defense has allowed only five touchdowns in five games -- with the best red zone defense, where opponents are scoring at just a 10% rate. Denver's games this season have averaged just 31 combined points.
Herbert is currently ranked second in passing yards with 1,478 through five games played. He sits just behind Josh Allen and just ahead of Tom Brady. Do you think that picking Herbert for most passing yards (+1200) is a good bet right now -- or would you go with someone else? What about taking a chance on him for MVP (+1600)?
Schatz: The faster pace for the Chargers makes Herbert a good bet to end up leading the league in passing yards, especially at +1200 odds. However, I wouldn't like Herbert as an MVP bet right now because the Chiefs appear to be in control of the AFC West. No division title, no MVP.
Wilson has been held under 241 passing yards in four of the Broncos' five games. The Chargers are ranked 12th in passing defense, allowing 237.6 yards per game. Wilson's over/unders currently sit at 231.5 passing yards and 1.5 passing TDs. What are your thoughts?
Walder: I'll take a different Wilson prop: over 31.5 pass attempts (-132). It's sticking with the same thesis that the Chargers are going to be ahead in this one, and the Broncos are going to have no choice but to have Wilson throw it. I feel more confident in the quantity of attempts than the quality.
Snellings: I'll go with the over in yards, but I'm not touching the touchdowns. I expect the Broncos to be playing from behind with lots of passing, and I've seen them move the ball in spurts. What I haven't yet seen them do is punch it in from the red zone.
Moody: Due to Wilson's shoulder injury, the Broncos should limit his passing attempts. I agree with what Vegas has listed. In my opinion, those numbers represent Wilson's ceiling. I would bet the under on both passing yards and passing touchdowns.
What is your best bet for Monday night's game?
Schatz: I'll go with Jerry Jeudy under 50.5 yards as my best bet. Yes, he has barely surpassed that with 53 yards in each of his past two games, but Wilson doesn't seem to have the connection with Jeudy that he has with Courtland Sutton. Plus, the Chargers currently rank No. 1 in the league in DVOA against No. 2 wide receivers.
Walder: I'll also go with Jeudy under 50.5 receiving yards. This is a double-down of sorts for me because I had Jeudy's under last week and suffered a bad beat. (He had only 16 receiving yards at the end of regulation, but caught a 37-yard pass in overtime to just sneak over.) This isn't just a revenge under, though. My model does prefer this side, forecasting 46.7 receiving yards for the Broncos wideout. I do think Jeudy is skilled at getting open, but his 18% target share isn't anything special.
Moody: I like going with Mike Boone over in rushing yards. The Chargers have one of the worst run defenses in the league. Los Angeles allows the ninth-most rushing yards per game (130.4). Last week, Nick Chubb finished with 134 rushing yards. Prior to that, Dameon Pierce and James Robinson both surpassed 100 yards against the Chargers. Boone could see more rushing attempts than originally anticipated due to Gordon's multiple injuries.
Snellings: For me, I'm picking Ekeler over 102.5 total yards. The Chargers should be playing with a lead, and the weakness of the Broncos' defense is in stopping the run. On the other hand, the strength of the Denver defense is the pass rush, so Ekeler should be a strong relief valve in the passing game. Plus, Ekeler has been playing extremely well in recent weeks.
Marks: Let's go with Sutton over 4.5 receptions (-140). Sutton had 11 targets last week and has become Wilson's No. 1 option in the passing game, averaging almost 30% of the target share. The Chargers have been extremely kind to opposing teams' WR1s, allowing them an average of 6.0 receptions per game.