The Denver Broncos (3-2) are coming off a really tough home loss, while the Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) are surging with two straight wins. The team that wins this game will quite likely save their season for another week.
Collectively, our staff along with Brandon Perna of That’s Good Broncos thinks the Broncos will win 19-18. Yes, it was that close.
Here’s how we predicted the game individually.
Broncos 34, Chargers 16
Do I have long-term faith in the Broncos offense? Not at all, but one thing I do have faith in is how this team plays when they are on the ropes. And yes, after last week’s embarrassing home loss, they are on the ropes.
This is the kind of game the defense comes out and dominates. I expect a defensive or special teams touchdown and I expect the offense run hog wild over the Chargers. Broncos Country will go from a season low this week to another season high next week. It will be a wild ride, people! - Tim Lynch
Chargers 17, Broncos 10
I have lost faith in the offense. Apparently, it is not all candy canes and rainbows for this team. Until the offense can show the ability to consistently move the football it will be hard to pick them to win a game. If you can’t score points, you can’t win games. It seems as if the Broncos offense has regressed to 2016 and it is not conducive to winning. The Chargers have been playing well, and the defense still has Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to disrupt and harass Trevor Siemian. He couldn’t read basic Cover-2 defenses against the the New York Giants. How will he be able to beat Los Angeles with their edge rushers bearing down on him?
Hope is a powerful emotion, and I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see this going well for Denver. - Adam Malnati
Broncos 16, Chargers 13
Two weeks ago the Chargers' situation seemed hopeless. Now, they've got a tiebreaker advantage over the Oakland Raiders and an opportunity to erase the tiebreaker advantage the Broncos hold over them... not only that, but a win Sunday would return them to 3rd in the division (dropped to 4th with the Raiders' win last night) and, in the longer term, does a lot to increase the Bolts' odds of sneaking into the playoffs via a wildcard spot. Simply put, it's a must win game for the Chargers. But it's also a must win game for the Broncos, considering the fact that the Chargers are likely the easiest competition among the Broncos' next four opponents, and a win would give the Broncos the division lead for now.
I have no doubt that the defense can carry their weight, and perhaps a bit more. The rushing offense will need to shoulder some extra weight this weekend too, but that should be quite doable against a Chargers run D that has yet to hold any team under 100 rushing yards. But the passing offense, and specifically Trevor Siemian, need to step up in a big way. We can't win without competent QB play, and Siemian's play hasn't been competent very often lately. Unfortunately, the pit of sadness at right tackle combined with the dual threat of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will not help him any. But I'll give the Broncos the nod with fingers crossed for a pick six by the No Fly Zone. - Taylor Kothe
Chargers 27, Broncos 10
I'm in the same boat Adam is on this one. How in the world is this team going to score points? Like the Kyle Orton led teams of yesteryear, this offense does a great job of stacking up some yards, but can't finish drives in the end zone. Let's add to that that our kicker can't hit a chip-shot to save his life. It starts and ends with the QB position on offense and this QB doesn't understand how to look people off or even just move on to the next read in his play when his guy is covered.
Let's add to this a defense that is breaking in a lot of new zone concepts which is leading to an abundance of big plays happening along with an apparent step back in pass rush effectiveness. They are still a very talented group, but there are weaknesses to be exploited...and a QB like Phillip Rivers WILL find those holes and exploit them. - Sadaraine
Broncos 17, Chargers 16
I'm sick and tired of hearing how the Defense should have done more. They held an NFL team to 16 points, and that was with at a minimum of 1 drive being started in field goal range. What more do the fans want? Oh yeah, I forgot, they want the defense to have 5 turnovers per game because simply holding an opponent to 16 isn't good enough when our offense can't score. Do they say "the Defense did their job, the Offense let us down?" Nope. They don't because it might push a narrative they aren't prepared to talk about with non-orange and blue tinted glasses. Here's my prediction: I predict the Broncos win, but I predict this will be the last game Siemian starts for a while. I believe our defense gets the job done like they have all year, and they bail our offense out. I predict the frustrations we saw last year are now into this season. And I believe instead of calling for the defense to step up even more, or the coaches to do more, how about our players on offense do more? Sadly, with their "leader", they can't. But the Broncos still prevail. - Pete Baron
In three games against the Denver Broncos Melvin Gordon has touched the ball 27 times, 27 times and 23 times... Guess which game the 23 was? That's right, Week 1 of this season. The Broncos will be without a starting right tackle, but perhaps the better argument will be what is better in pass protection Menelik Watson, Donald Stephenson or Ron Leary's right cleat? If you need something to hang your hat on, it's Week 7 and Denver has not given up a rushing touchdown. All three cornerbacks are playing at an All Pro level and last week Brandon Marshall not only defended his first pass of the season, he stopped three of them.
Keenan Allen has scored in four of his five games against Denver, but has only had more than 42 yards receiving once. So, what's going to happen? Denver will take first place in the AFC West and remain undefeated in their division. The match-ups for Trevor Siemian's wide receivers only favor Demaryius Thomas right now, but Jordan Taylor and Bennie Fowler are two receivers that Siemian trusts and will hopefully know to look for if he can get through his first read. If C.J. Anderson is getting touches, it means that the Broncos are winning—nearly 90% of his touches this season have occurred with the Broncos winning or tied. - Ian Henson
Broncos 20, Chargers 17
On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, I said Denver would lose 24-10. But then I saw everyone was on the “Broncos have no shot” train, just like they were the week before when they hosted the Giants only it was headed in the other direction. Sunday’s game has that same feel about it. I have no faith in Denver’s offense or Siemian, who isn’t very good and is why the offense has been so atrocious the last three weeks. But I do have faith in the Broncos defense, who will finally play with the aggressiveness we’re used to seeing. That will result in at least four turnovers, and that’s huge for this team. As Andrew Mason highlighted on Twitter, Denver has lost nine-straight games when it doesn’t force a turnover. In the last two seasons, the Broncos are 1-9 when they have no takeaways and 26-4 when they’re plus one. When Denver creates those four turnovers, even Siemian can’t screw that up. Can he? - Ian St. Clair