After making 2 mostly successful attempts at predicting the Titans and Packers games, its time to take a look at this weekend's matchup against the San Diego Chargers. This game may potentially be the most important game of Orton's career as a Denver Bronco. If Orton can lead his team to a win over the division rival Chargers, he will secure his spot as the starter at least until the Broncos are mathmatically eliminated from the playoffs. If the Broncos lose this weekend and have a 1-4 record heading into the bye week, many will feel that a change at QB should happen and the momentum of this "Tebow Thing" may be too much for the front office to continue ignoring. With that said, let's see if we can predict just how this weekend's game in San Diego will go.
This will be an emotional game for the Denver Broncos as the team will be pumped up after the beatdown last week in Green Bay. The Chargers offense will be lackluster at first, making Denver's D look better than they have all year. With Gates out and Vincent Jackson banged up, Rivers will struggle to get the ball downfield and will rely heavily on the screens and checkdowns. At some point Ryan Matthews will break off a few big runs and open it up for Rivers to make some deep completions and SD will come away with 14-17 points in the first half. Denver's offense will get off to a strong start moving the ball well between the 20s. Orton will look like a man possessed making a lot of sharp throws but will struggle in the red zone to find open receivers against SD's 5th ranked pass D. He'll more than likely make one major bad read/throw while in scoring position that will lead to a SD interception. With San Diego playing the run, McGahee will grind out the tough yards but he will struggle to get anything more than 2-3 YPC. They'll look to Moreno for a change of pace with draws and outside runs and he should finally find some running room for the first time this season. Tebow will also most likely be worked into the game plan with a few QB runs, possibily a throw or two, and will ignite the crowd with his first TD of the season. Denver should be able to put together at least 1-2 other scoring drives and will feel like they have a good chance to get a win heading into halftime.
Halftime score prediction: Chargers 14, Broncos 13
After some halftime adjustments, the Chargers offense will find a way to exploit Denver's weaknesses at SS (Dawkins) and CB (Vaughn, Wilhite) and Rivers will look to burn them deep on the early running downs (1st & 10, 2nd & short). Denver's offense will suddenly struggle to move the ball with some 3 and outs and the Chargers will jump out to a 2 score lead leaving Denver in catch-up mode. They'll lose focus on the running game and Orton will start passing more than they wanted him to, but he should eventually find the endzone to get Denver back into the game. In the 4th quarter with a chance to tie or take the lead, the pressure will be on Orton to make the critical game winning plays but as history has shown, he just won't be able to. On Denver's final possession, the game will end with the offense turning the ball over on downs and SD will kill the clock to get the win.
Final score prediction: Chargers 28, Broncos 20
Final stats predicton:
Orton: 23 of 35, 286 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Tebow: 1 for 2 passing for 12 yards, 3 carries for 7 yards, 1 TD
McGahee: 16 carries for 52 yards, 1 catch for 6 yards
Moreno: 11 carries for 46 yards, 3 catches for 28 yards
Lloyd: 8 catches for 113 yards, 1 TD
Decker: 6 catches for 84 yards
Wild Card Prediction: For the few plays that Tebow was in, the excitement he brought to the table will be enough for John Elway to want to see more. The Broncos will name Tim Tebow the starting quarterback on Tuesday after the game.
Keys to Victory: Take away Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert in the passing game, keep them well covered and don't let them beat you with the dump offs/screen plays. Do a lot of blitzing in passing situations, don't just sit back in cover 3 and cover 4 zone because Rivers will pick you apart. Get him out of rhythm and into making mistakes. They must keep the momentum on their side by reducing 3 and outs and winning the turnover battle. If they can do all of this, they will have a good chance to beat San Diego.
So what are your predictions for the game this Sunday? Could we see an upset?