• Chargers visit Denver in amust-win contest tonight
    By
     | December 12,2013
     
    AP PHOTO

    San Diego and quarterback Philip Rivers have to win out in order to have a chance to reach the playoffs.

    It seems inevitable that Peyton Manning will shatter the 50-touchdown passing mark set by Tom Brady in 2007. He might even do it Thursday night.

    Sure, he needs five to tie, six to break. Never bet against Manning when it comes to such records.

    Which also means not to bet against Manning and his Broncos when they face the Chargers in the final Thursday nighter of the season. Denver (No. 2 in the AP Pro 32) is a 10-point favorite over San Diego (No. 18, AP Pro32).

    But don’t forget that Philip Rivers is having a superb season for the Chargers, too. And San Diego (6-7) desperately needs to win out for any chance of making the playoffs, which Denver already has reached.

    Could be quite a shootout.

    “In my mind it’s a playoff scenario for us,” Chargers outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be a great challenge. As a competitor and an athlete in the NFL, these are the opportunities you want. We worked ourselves into a hole and we have to depend on other people, but the only thing we’re focusing on is what we can control, and right now that’s Denver.”

    They’ll need to control Manning and an offense that has scored a stunning 515 points in 13 games. Won’t happen.

    BRONCOS, 38-30.

    No. 28 Bills (minus 2)

    at No. 25 Jaguars

    Swallowing hard and making the Jaguars ...

    BEST BET: JAGUARS, 22-20

    No. 12 (tie) Baltimore (plus 6)

    at No. 14 Detroit

    Ravens beginning to look like playoff team, but can they win big one on road?

    UPSET SPECIAL: RAVENS, 23-21

    No. 1 Seattle (minus 7)

    at No. 23 New York Giants

    Seahawks will be in even nastier mood after close loss at San Francisco.

    SEAHAWKS, 31-17

    No. 5 San Francisco (minus 5

    1-2) at No. 24 Tampa Bay

    Niners have too much at stake to stumble.

    49ERS, 23-14

    No. 11 Arizona (minus

    2 1-2) at No. 22 Tennessee

    Cardinals have too much at stake to stumble.

    CARDINALS, 24-16

    No. 3 New Orleans (minus

    5 1-2) at No. 21 St. Louis

    Saints’ three losses all were on road — but outdoors. This is indoors.

    SAINTS, 28-17

    No. 9 Philadelphia (minus 4

    1-2) at No. 27 Minnesota

    Judging by snow-blown win vs. Detroit, Eagles might prefer this to be outdoors.

    EAGLES, 37-14

    No. 12 (tie) Chicago (plus 1 1-2)

    at No. 26 Cleveland

    Wonder if Bears are thawed out by now. Yep ...

    BEARS, 26-20

    No. 8 Cincinnati (minus 3)

    at No. 20 Pittsburgh

    Bengals favored at Heinz Field. What has become of the AFC North?

    BENGALS, 16-14

    No. 32 Houston (plus 6)

    at No. 10 Indianapolis

    Colts in playoffs, but with lots of issues to solve.

    COLTS, 24-21

    No. 4 New England (minus

    2 1-2) at No. 15 Miami

    What miracle is next for Patriots?

    PATRIOTS, 23-21

    No. 19 New York Jets (plus

    11) at No. 6 Carolina

    Two good defenses. One gets a shutout.

    PANTHERS, 17-0

    No. 7 Kansas City (minus 4)

    at No. 29 Oakland

    Tempting to make this a BEST BET. But big rivalry game — or once was.

    CHIEFS, 20-10

    No. 31 Washington (plus 6)

    at No. 30 Atlanta

    Two 2013 playoff teams now at the bottom of the league.

    FALCONS, 30-19

    No. 17 Green Bay (OFF)

    at No. 16 Dallas

    Taking a mulligan here.

    With Aaron Rodgers: PACKERS, 28-26

    Without Aaron Rodgers: COWBOYS, 31-19

    ———

    2013 RECORD: Against spread: 7-7 (83-107-7). Straight up: 13-3 (124-81-1).

    Best Bet: 5-8 against spread, 11-2 straight up.

    Upset special: 4-10 against spread, 2-12 straight up.

    ———

    AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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