The Los Angeles Chargers face their first division opponent in the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are more than their 0-4 record and have deceptively played good football. Just like the Chargers, their games have been decided by moments in the final minutes. During the beginning of the season, the Broncos looked like another disappointing team that would not live up to their potential. However, stars Phillip Lindsay and Von Miller have finally started to contribute and produce and the Broncos seem to be the team that just needed a few weeks to knock the rust off. Last year the Broncos also had a slow start but made a resounding surge to try and make the playoffs that began when they beat Los Angeles. History is repeating itself as they will try to repeat that same surge with the same opponent.
The biggest key for success for the Chargers is to stop Von Miller and the pass rush. Last weekend the Broncos finally recorded their first sacks and ended the game with five total sacks. Coming into the season the Broncos defense was the strength of the team but many criticized Vic Fangio for the lack of production from Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos quickly silenced critics last week, and an awakened Broncos defense is a scary sight for the Chargers offensive line. The Chargers’ offensive line has a chance to silence their critics. The Chargers offensive line has gradually seen flashes of great improvement. Dan Feeney has posted elite PFF grades over the last two weeks, and Forrest Lamp also had an elite grade when he came in to relieve the starters. It is up to the Chargers o-line to seize the moment and step up big and slow down the pass rush long enough for routes to develop downfield. The Broncos are susceptible to big passing plays downfield so if the Chargers can handle the pressure expect another big day from Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler.
Side note: Also look to see if Andre Patton gets the nod over Travis Benjamin. The third WR position looks wide open.
The Broncos offense works best when everyone gets the ball and gets involved. Phillip Lindsay fantasy owners know that he has struggled the first few weeks, and that’s because defenses know that the Broncos win when Lindsay is effective. When defenses have shut down Lindsay, the Broncos have moved the ball through the air well enough to sustain long drives. They struggle the most in the red zone and have had to settle for field goals, but Lindsay saw good production last week against a good Jaguars defense. This is a bad sign for a Chargers defense that has yet to significantly stop an opposing running back and has struggled to tackle all year. This is a perfect game for Lindsay to break out and help the Broncos offense to end their drives with touchdowns. Slowing Lindsay has to be priority one for the Bolts. Also look for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to draw up more blitzes for Joey Bosa and company to force Flacco to make mistakes. The Chargers have too many injured playmakers to be able to stop the Broncos receivers one on one, and the Broncos do a great job at getting separation right after the snap. If Lindsay is loose and there is no pass rush, it will be a long day for a Chargers defense.
Side Note: The Broncos special teams group is very underrated and have a punter that can flip the field with one boot.