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Week 6 NFL Picks: A rivalry renewed

Two AFC West foes at opposite ends of the standings square off in primetime.

Each week Zac Hirschbeck will look at the betting odds for each NFL game and then share his pick for each matchup. While hopefully it goes without saying, please don’t hold him accountable if you gamble away your retirement savings or child’s college fund based on his picks.

After going 6-7-1 in his Week 5 Picks, Zac’s season-long record stands at 39-36-2 heading into Week 6.

Here are his thoughts tonight’s game, which sees the San Diego Chargers (1-4) host the Denver Broncos (4-1)

Denver Broncos (-3) at San Diego Chargers

The Chargers have had a rough start to the season to say the least.

In Week 1, San Diego let a 27-10 fourth-quarter lead slip away to the Chiefs. In Week 3, the Chargers gave up a go-ahead 63-yard touchdown with 1:17 left in the game to lose to the Colts. In Week 4, two touchdown passes from Drew Brees in the final 4:50 sunk the Chargers. Most recently, a botched snap on a 36-yard field goal saw San Diego lose to the Raiders 34-31. Quite simply, the Chargers have continued to find a way to lose.

Unfortunately for San Diego fans, a turnaround doesn’t seem likely. For the second-straight season, injuries continue to pile up for the Chargers. Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Jason Verrett, and Manti Te’o were all prepared to be featured prominently this season. However, all four have already been lost to season-ending injuries. The injuries certainly aren’t limited to the season-ending variety either. This week alone, the Chargers will be without two starting members of its defensive secondary (Brandon Flowers and Jahleel Addae) and could be without two starting offensive lineman (Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale). That doesn’t bode well for San Diego, especially considering that the defending Super Bowl champions are coming to town.

Although the Broncos are coming off of their first loss of the season in Week 5, Denver continues to look the part of a legitimate contender. The Broncos defense remains a top-five unit, and Trevor Siemian wil return to the starting lineup this week after seeing backup Paxton Lynch struggle in his first career start against the Falcons. Before injuring his shoulder in Week 4 against Tampa Bay, Siemian was seemingly beginning to settle in as an NFL quarterback. After mostly serving as a “game manager” during Denver’s first two games, Siemian’s performance against the Bengals in Week 3 (23 for 35 for 312 yards and four touchdowns) was very encouraging.

The second-year quarterback should have a great opportunity to establish new career bests against San Diego tonight. The Chargers currently rank 27th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, and Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should have their way with San Diego’s backups in the secondary.

On the other side of the ball, while Philip Rivers has had a great start to the year statistically, he’s also faced a collection of poor defenses. In terms of yards allowed per game, Rivers has played the three worst defenses in the league (Indianapolis, New Orleans, Oakland), another that’s in the bottom third (Kansas City), and one top-ten unit (Jacksonville). Denver will certainly provide Rivers with a far tougher challenge than any he’s faced in 2016.

Pick: Denver (-3)