The Denver Broncos (5-5) fly to sunny San Diego to take on the uncharged Chargers (4-6). The Bolts have lost their last five games. It’s unusual for the Chargers to sit in last place in the AFC West in November, but that’s exactly where they stand with six weeks remaining. The last time these two teams met, Tebow Mania kicked off when Kyle Orton was removed from the game and Tim Tebow nearly lead a fourth quarter comeback that had the Broncos down by 16 points. The Chargers won 29-24, but that was the last game that they came out on top. Kickoff is set for 2:15 pm MT.
Broncos: The Broncos will look to take advantage of the Chargers 23rd ranked rush defense. They are giving up 124.4 rushing yards per game which plays into the Broncos game plan perfectly. Willis McGahee could have a huge game here. The Broncos are 4th in rushing but 31st against the pass. Tim Tebow completed 40% of his passes against the Chargers last time, and he’s completing just 44.8% of his passes on the season. While Tebow hasn’t been the most accurate passer, his receivers have dropped some balls along the way. Are they out of practice with the Broncos heavily favored run game? The offensive line continues to gel and they will take on a team that’s 27th in sacks. This is the type of game where this offense can really explode if they execute well.
Chargers: When you think of the Chargers offense, Philip Rivers is the first thing that comes to mind. He’s torched the Broncos so many times in important games. This season, however, he’s struggling. He leads the league in interceptions (17) and he has just 15 touchdown passes. Antonio Gates didn’t play in the teams’ last meeting, but he’s had 26 receptions for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns since. Vincent Jackson is the team’s most deadly receiver. He had 7 catches for 165 yards against the Bears. Unlike the Broncos, the Bolts’ strength lies in their pass game. They are 4th in passing, but 20th in rushing. The Bears held Ryan Mathews to 38 yards last week, but in week 5 Mathews had 125 yards on 24 carries against the Broncos. This offense can be explosive, but lately the turnovers have killed their chances.
Broncos: For the first time in a long time, people get excited when the Broncos defense steps out onto the field. They’re playmakers and they get the job done, particularly late in games. They are ranked 16th against the rush and 21st against the pass, but those rankings are improving from game to game. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil have helped the Broncos to 27 sacks on the season which is good enough for 8th in the NFL. The secondary has to be on high alert for this matchup with Gates, Jackson, and Malcom Floyd as downfield threats. Flloyd led the team in receiving yards the last time these two teams met. A heavy amount of pressure up front will help the Broncos secondary more than anything. Rivers is the fifth most sacked QB in the league, so the Broncos focus has to go there.
Chargers: All week long, the Chargers have prepared for the Broncos run attack. They focused on the option, how to hold off their offensive linemen in the team’s complex blocking scheme, and how to force Tebow to pass. The Bolts haven’t been the usual playmakers that they have been in the past. Ron Rivera’s departure didn’t help their defense. They are 23rd against the run and 8th against the pass. They haven’t been able to apply a lot of pressure to opposing quarterbacks, being ranked 26th in sacks. Donald Butler leads the team in tackles, Antwan Barnes leads the team in sacks (6), and Eric Weddle leads the team in sacks (5).
Broncos: The Broncos special teams has really come through lately. Between Cassius Vaughn running 67 yards on a punt last week and Britton Colquitt’s leg, special teams has made the difference in all off the Broncos close wins.
Chargers: The Chargers have yet to run a kick back this year, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not capable. They have Richard Goodman (26.3 avg.) handling kick returns and Patrick Crayton handling punts (10.1 avg.). Mike Scifres is averaging 48.7 yards per punt and has a long of 71 yards. Nick Novak has missed three field goals on the year and has a long of 55 yards.
Broncos: John Fox and the coaching staff have figured out what’s working for the Broncos and it’s a stout defense and an emphasis on the run game. They’ve game planned well and called the game so that it plays into their players strengths.
Chargers: Norv Turner’s team has lost five straight and his head is on the ultimate chopping block. Without a win this week he is good as gone.
Prediction: Broncos – 24 Chargers – 20.