Break It Down: Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers

Opening Statement

Hello , everyone. This is my first post as a contributor for MHR. I hope all of my posts are intriguing and get all of you thinking. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Where The Teams Stand

Denver (3-6) notched its first win at home against a divisional opponent under Josh McDaniels by defeating Kansas City. Despite being 1-4 at home, Denver is 3-0 on the road under McDaniels. Last year, they defeated San Diego on Monday Night Football, 34-23.

San Diego (4-5) had a bye this past week. In their previous game, they defeated Houston, 29-23. San Diego won the rematch last year in Denver.

Both teams are still at the bottom of the AFC West, with Oakland (5-4) holding a head-to-head tie-breaker over Kansas City (5-4). A win here would go a long way in challenging those teams for the division lead.

Team Characteristics

Both teams rely heavily on the pass and both Kyle Orton and Phillip Rivers are having great seasons.

Denver has a pass-run ratio of 372-216. As most of you know, Denver's heavy pass-oriented offense has resulted from injuries on the offensive line and running backs all year.

In Denver's two best games this year, Denver outscored Seattle and Kansas City by a combined score of 80-43. In those games, Denver had a pas-run ratio of 70-65. It is obvious that Denver can perform at a very high level when their running game is even somewhat effective. Against Seattle, they had a terrible YPC average (2.0 on 35 carries), but continued to stick with the running game. Against Kansas City, Moreno notched his first 100-yard game.

On defense, Denver has struggled due to injuries as well, and has had a hard time pressuring the quarterback. With a healthy defense for the first time, Denver looks to improve upon last week's performance where they notched 4 sacks, a fumble returned for a touchdown and a goal-line stand.

Denver has posted 13 sacks (t-27th) while giving up 7.9 YPP (29th) in the passing game and 4.4 YPC (25th) in the running game.

For San Diego, they have performed admirably. They are 6th in the NFL with only 16.8 offensive PPG allowed. They are also 2nd in the NFL in total yards allowed (274.7).

Despite key losses to their linebackers and secondary, San Diego has recorded 27 sacks (t-3rd). They are allowing opponents to pass for 6.5 yards per pass (YPP) which is 5th in the NFL. Against the run, they allow opponents to rush for 3.6 yards per carry (YPC), which is also 5th in the NFL.

They key to this game for San Diego involves non-offensive points. Their opponents have scored 46 points on either defense or special teams. However, in San Diego's four wins, opponents have scored only 9 non-offensive points. Denver can gain a huge advantage if they can find a way to notch another non-offensive touchdown. Last week, Denver recorded its first with a defensive sack-fumble returned 75 yards by OLB Jason Hunter.

Intelligent Stats

In most key statistical comparisons, San Diego is the heavy favorite. Here is a chart detailing their performances on the year.


Denver Rank San Diego Rank
QB Rating 70.5 13th 75.1 7th
Net QB Rating -5.3 25th 17.4 2nd
Net YPT -21.3 28th -0.5 16th
Net Points -47 28th 15.5 14th
Net Turnovers -4 24th -5.3 28th
Misc 66 27th 47 13th (t)
Net SFP -2.5 25th -6.3 32nd

 

This shows two things. First, this shows how poorly Denver played in their first eight games. They were too one-dimensional on offense and struggled mightily to force turnovers, pressure the quarterback and get stops. They were also lacking in the fundamentals.

Second, Denver showed everyone what they were capable of when healthy and how that contrasts with their performance in their first eight games. Even if the game against Kansas City was a statistical outlier, it is actually less probable on MNF that Denver will perform like they did in the first eight games of the season rather than in Week 10 against Kansas City. The reason for this is simple - Denver is not the same team they were in Week 1.

As the season progresses, teams evolve. Some improve. San Diego has done that repeatedly. Maybe, with time, Denver will too. While San Diego poses as a greater statistical threat and the game is on the road, this is actually a better match-up. This week, Denver will prove itself - either as a threat to win the division, or just a potentially tough team.

Closing Remarks

Statistically, Denver seems to be outmatched. Then again, they were last week against Kansas City. For the second straight game, these statistics are not very telling of how the game will carry out. Denver is finally healthy for the first time and they are coming off of their best game of the year.

San Diego has also played well in the last few games in wins over Tennessee and Houston. With both teams getting healthier, this game will most likely be closer than the stats indicate. I am not big on predictions, but obviously San Diego has the edge in being at home, coming off of a bye and seeing Denver's performance with a healthy offensive line.

With all of that said, Denver must do exactly what it did last week. Protect Orton. Help Moreno average over 4.0 YPC. Play smart football with no turnovers and few penalties. If they do those things, this game can be won.

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