clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chargers at Broncos Week 1 preview

New, comments

Taking a look at the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos in Week 1 on Monday Night Football.

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos open the season on Monday Night Football against their AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers. It will be a late game, but that doesn’t make this game any less critical for the Broncos to come out on top. The first game of the season sets the tone for the season, but its especially true when its a division opponent.

Dating back to Tim Tebow’s 16-13 overtime victory over the Chargers in 2011, the Broncos own a 10-2 record against the Chargers. However, one of those losses was last year in a Thursday Night Football game that Gary Kubiak had rushed Trevor Siemian back from injury.

As good as Phillip Rivers is, he struggles to score points against this Denver defense. Over the past six games, Rivers has only managed to score an average of 18.5 points per game, so all the Broncos offense needs to do is put three or four solid scoring drives and this game will be close.

2016 Team Rankings

DEN OFF LAC OFF DEN YPP LAC YPP DEN PPG LAC PPG
DEN OFF LAC OFF DEN YPP LAC YPP DEN PPG LAC PPG
27th 14th 26th 13th 22nd 9th
DEN DEF LAC DEF DEN YPP LAC YPP DEN PPG LAC PPG
4th 16th 1st 12th 4th 29th

The difference between these two teams was clearly the Broncos defense. It didn’t matter how bad the Broncos offense was, the defense seemed to keep the score close. Despite being 22nd (bottom half of the league) in offensive scoring, the Broncos still found a way to win nine games.

New offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, isn’t likely going to settle for that kind of production, but it may take a few weeks before this team starts to come together. Until then, here are our keys to the game:

4 Keys to the game

Sack City

Phillip Rivers is a great quarterback, but all too often when he falters it is when the opposing defensive line is getting to him. Von Miller will need to terrorize Rivers at key moments in this game. If he does, it will lead to turnovers and turnovers will lead to points. To me, this is the most important key to victory for the Broncos in this game. - Tim Lynch

Offensive Line

Watch the offensive line. No, really, watch the offensive line, particularly in the running game. If four of the five (or five of the five) are pushing their defender off of the line of scrimmage on just about every play, you will probably hear me yelling and screaming for joy all the way from Delaware. If we can run block, then Siemian, who was not very good at play-action passing last season, can become a much better play-action passer. They will make it easier to pass block as well. So watch the OL. Seriously. DVR the game so you can rewatch it and focus on the OL if you have to, but watch the offensive line. - Joe Mahoney

Defensive Line

Last year run defense was the soft underbelly of the Broncos' otherwise historically good defensive unit. Teams racked up 200+ yard rushing days against us twice, plus eight other 100+ rushing yard games. So watch the defensive line. Melvin Gordon is a worthy test of the revamped interior line, and we'll get to see if signing guys like Domata Peko and Zack Kerr paid off. Excellence from the Broncos' secondary isn't really in question. So if we can stymie the Chargers' rushing attack, then put the league on notice: the Broncos are going to make some noise this year, and no one will want to see them up next on their schedule. - Taylor Kothe

No Fly Zone

My key to watch in this game will be what coverages Denver runs on defense. Last season the Chargers exploited Denver's man coverage with a variety of rub routes and mismatches. With Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates, and now a healthy Keenan Allen receiving passes from Philip Rivers, it will be interesting to see if new defensive coordinator, Joe Woods adjusts coverages to help out the secondary and takeaway some of those plays. - Jeff Essary

Poll

Will the Broncos beat the Chargers in Week 1?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Yes
    (3152 votes)
  • 13%
    No
    (503 votes)
3655 votes total Vote Now