Expert Cappers Picks
National Football League
Preview
L.A. Chargers at Denver
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 30, 2018
Where: Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, Colorado

The Los Angeles Chargers will either be the top seed or No. 5 in the AFC playoffs, and the positioning will be determined when they visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The Chargers can earn AFC West title and the No. 1 seed if they defeat the Broncos and Kansas City stumbles against Oakland.

Los Angeles missed an opportunity to be in the driver's seat in the AFC when it lost to Baltimore last week and Philip Rivers is striving to make sure there's not a second straight misstep. "First and foremost, Coach (Anthony Lynn) made it dead clear, we just worry about us," Rivers told reporters. "Worry about us. It's nice to be in a Week 17 game and not having to worry about everybody else and us. We know we get a game the following weekend. Where? Who knows or how it all shakes out." The Broncos have lost three straight games and second-year coach Vance Joseph is expected to be dismissed on Monday. "I haven't heard anything or talked about anything," defensive end Adam Gotsis told the Denver Post regarding Joseph's situation. "I'm worrying about playing the Chargers. I'm not worrying about who's going to be here - coaches, players, whatever. That's for after the season to talk about."

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Chargers -6.5. O/U: 41.5

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (11-4): Rivers passed for a season-worst 181 yards and was intercepted twice in the 22-10 loss to the Ravens but did push his yardage total to 4,132 as he topped 4,000 for the sixth straight year and 10th time in his career. Wide receiver Keenan Allen (1,132 yards) is seven receptions away from reaching 100 for the second straight season and is over 1,000 yards for the third time in his career. Safety Derwin James is in the mix for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with a team-best 103 tackles to go with 3.5 sacks and is tied for the team lead with second-year cornerback Desmond King at three interceptions apiece.

ABOUT THE BRONCOS (6-9): Royce Freeman (461 yards) and Devontae Booker (169) will split the ball-carrying duties against the Chargers after rookie Phillip Lindsay (1,037) injured his wrist during Monday's loss to Oakland and will require surgery. "The chances he's gotten, he's run downhill," Joseph told reporters of Freeman, a third-round draft pick. "He breaks tackles, he catches the ball and he's good in protection. Phillip's been so good, he's gotten less and less chances, but Royce has been Royce." Pass rushers Von Miller (tied for third in the NFL with 14.5 sacks) and Bradley Chubb (NFL rookie-high 12) have been superb for a defense that has forced 24 turnovers (15 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Broncos have won three of the last four meetings, including a 23-22 road triumph on Nov. 18.

2. Los Angeles reserve RB Austin Ekeler (neck/concussion) is expected to play after missing the last two games.

3. Denver QB Case Keenum (3,598 yards) hasn't reached 300 yards in any of his last nine games after doing so in three of his first six contests.

PREDICTION: Chargers 31, Broncos 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
L.A. Chargers 11-4 L1 27.0 21.3 5-3 6-1 9-4 1-0 - - 8-3
Denver 6-9 L3 21.3 21.7 3-4 3-5 5-7 0-0 - - 4-7
Last Meeting
L.A. Chargers Denver
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/18/18 DEN 23 LAC 22 479 95 384 325 108 217
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
L.A. Chargers P. Rivers 65.1 401 2 2
Denver C. Keenum 59.4 205 0 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
L.A. Chargers M. Gordon III 18 69 3.8 0
Denver P. Lindsay 11 79 7.2 2
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
L.A. Chargers K. Allen 9 89 9.9 1
Denver C. Sutton 3 78 26.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
L.A. Chargers K. Allen 1
Denver P. Lindsay 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
L.A. Chargers P. Rivers 68.8 4132 31 10
Denver C. Keenum 62.1 3598 17 14
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
L.A. Chargers M. Gordon III 165 843 5.1 10
Denver P. Lindsay 192 1037 5.4 9
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
L.A. Chargers K. Allen 93 1132 12.2 6
Denver E. Sanders 71 868 12.2 4
Touchdowns Player TD
L.A. Chargers M. Gordon III 14
Denver P. Lindsay 10