The Broncos have dropped six of their last seven games. The Chargers have won six in a row.
This does not look like a beneficial situation for Denver. I know, #Analysis, but the Broncos are coming off a bye week and already on the brink of playoff extinction so they can’t be counted out. So can they pull off an upset as a touchdown underdog on the road?
Let’s take a look at three key matchups that will decide it:
Joey Bosa vs. The Poor Sod in Front of Him
Bosa is finally expected to make his 2018 debut. He’s missed the first 10 weeks with a foot injury but was back at practice and should be on the field as a situational pass rusher as he gets back into “football shape.” Of course that means he’s fresh and very likely needing to take out some frustration.
Denver’s offensive line was playing at a decent level until it lost center Matt Paradis and guard Max Garcia and then it just fell apart. If they didn’t stitch together something to deal with Bosa during the bye week then QB Case Keenum will be very sore on Monday morning.
Broncos Linebackers vs. Chargers Running Backs
This is mostly in the passing game. Denver has had its best success when putting pressure on Philip Rivers. Von Miller has a long history of getting up close and personal with the Chargers QB. But now Rivers has Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, arguably the best pass-catching backfield duo in the NFL, to get the ball to. While Miller tries to rub his cologne on Philip’s jersey the rest of the Denver linebackers will have to keep Gordon and Ekeler from turning short passes into big gains, something not many teams have been able to do this year.
Brandon McManus vs. Michael Badgley
The Chargers finally have a kicker they think they can rely on. Badgley has not missed a field goal or a PAT yet. The Broncos have been in just about every game they’ve played. Four of their six losses have been by seven points or less. In close games special teams need to be as close to perfect as possible. If one of these kickers stumbles and it is a close game, that could be the difference.
The Broncos can’t lose this game if they want to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and head coach Vance Joseph is likely coaching for his Denver career. This is a desperate team coming off a bye. But they’re simply not as good as the Chargers are. It’ll be close but the Bolts run their winning streak to seven.
Final score: Chargers 24, Broncos 22