It’s once again time to bring in some help to preview this primetime matchup between the Chargers (3-2) and the Broncos (2-3).
Joe Rowles of Mile High Report joined us to provide some additional insight on what should be another dramatic contest within the AFC West.
How does the fan base feel about Russell Wilson through five weeks? How should the Chargers attack a stingy Broncos defense? These questions get answered, and more, below.
Let’s dive right in.
1.) The Broncos forked out a lot of resources to acquire and extend Russell Willson. He currently have just four touchdowns to three interceptions through five games in Denver. So to put this simply: What the heck is going on?
Simply put, he hasn’t cooked.
Since Wilson has arrived in Denver he’s been trying to masquerade as Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. The problem, of course, is that he’s not good enough at connecting with the middle of the field to play that way at an elite level. He’s also prone to missing the occasional open man because he simply didn’t see him. In the past, Wilson’s been able to make up for that because he’s so good at buying time and creating explosive plays. What’s made Wilson such a great player for so long is that he has the ability to maneuver around the pocket and buy himself time to connect down the field, but that’s been hampered by the fact Tim Patrick’s season ending injury leaves the Broncos with one receiver who has proven himself as a difference maker in contested catch situations.
2.) The Broncos just lost left tackle Garrett Bolles for the season. The Chargers certainly know how that feels in a year that had high expectations. Denver has also lost promising second-year back Javonte Williams. After those two impactful injuries, how much do the 2022 expectations for the Broncos need to be recalibrated? What is their ceiling/floor going forward?
The Broncos are 2-3 after one of the easiest early slates in the league, and now hit the final 12 games as the most banged up team in the league. Following last week’s loss to the Colts Denver now has the most cap dollars locked up on Injured Reserve, and on Thursday they had 18 players on their injury report. At this point a winning record seems optimistic.
If the Broncos were 4-1 I'd be nervous about their playoff chances.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 13, 2022
They're 2-3. https://t.co/jncmw7R0wj
3.) If you were the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, how would you go about scheming against this Broncos defense? Where are the Broncos weak defensively? Which mismatches would you exploit?
There’s no question Ejiro Evero has been the one bright spot among the Broncos’ new coaching staff and he’s done a masterful job maximizing his personnel on defense. Denver’s dealt with a rash of injuries there, as everywhere else. Those holes could create some big opportunities in this game.
The pass rush has been very good through five games, but Randy Gregory won’t play against the Chargers. Baron Browning did a fantastic job replacing him last week ‘til he got hurt, and while he’s expected to play Monday it’s unlikely he’ll be as effective as he was against Indy’s rookie left tackle. Behind him on the depth chart is rookie Nik Bonitto, who has barely played. That means the pass rush is extremely dependent on Bradley Chubb and Evero cooking up pressure. This could create issues since the secondary will also be short handed after Ronald Darby landed on Injured Reserve for the second consecutive year. He’ll be replaced by either Michael Ojemudia or rookie Damarri Mathis.
4.) Same question as above but you’re now the Chargers defensive coordinator. What are you doing to make sure Wilson continues his underwhelming start to the season? How would you mitigate the ground game now led by Melvin Gordon?
The Broncos offense is predictable and ineffective. They rarely run the ball out of shotgun and have been bad when they’ve tried it, but will mash their backs into stacked boxes out of heavier personnel groupings. This hurts their early down offense and puts them into 3rd and 7+ situations, where Wilson has only converted 4 times this year. They don’t use QB sneaks which limits their options in short yardage situations. The tight ends are unreliable receivers and Wilson isn’t making the most of Jerry Jeudy. That means if you can slow down Courtland Sutton the passing offense is going to slow to a crawl.
5.) The Chargers are currently five-point favorites over the Broncos (per DraftKings Sportsbook) with the over/under set at 45.5. Go ahead and give us a short summary of how you see this game shaking out, a final score prediction, and whether or not you will be taking the over or under.
I’ll say Chargers 24, Broncos 10. The only way I see the game going over 45.5 is if the Chargers blow the Broncos out, because their offense isn’t going to score very much. Russell Wilson is going to continue to masquerade as Drew Lock with mind numbing gaffes and yolo balls down the sideline, and Brandon Staley is smart enough to take advantage. I suspect Justin Herbert will have a few hiccups early before he settles into a rhythm and puts Denver away in the third quarter.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.