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Broncos vs Chargers: Will Denver end its AFC West road losing streak?

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The Broncos head to LA having lost their last seven games on the road in the division. Here’s how Denver can flip the script.

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The recent ineptitude of the Denver Broncos is highlighted best by what happens on the road.

In Vance Joseph’s tenure, his team is 2-11 on the road. Chew on this: Joseph has never won a road game that wasn’t played on a Thursday. The last time the Broncos won a game that wasn’t played on a Friday Eve, Joseph wasn’t the head coach — Dec. 4, 2016, in a 21-10 game at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The same pit of misery happens in the AFC West. The last time Denver beat a divisional opponent on the road was Dec. 6, 2015, and, again, Joseph wasn’t the head coach and the team played in a different city. The Broncos beat the Los Angeles Chargers in San Diego 17-3.

Wait, it gets even better ... or worse.

Denver has lost 10-straight games in Los Angeles — to the Chargers last season, eight games to the now Oakland Raiders and one to the Los Angeles Rams in 1994. The last time the Broncos won a game in Los Angeles was 1987 against Bo Jackson and the Raiders. Hat tip to Sam Adams for that gold nugget.

As Adam Malnati and I said on the latest MHR Radio Podcast: Bring on the Chargers ... we guess?! Denver (3-6) comes off its bye having lost six of its last seven games and playing a team in Los Angeles (7-2) that is on a six-game winning streak. Not to mention all of the trends mentioned above.

Offensive Rankings

Denver: Eleventh in overall offense (377.1 yards), ninth in rushing (126.7), 17th in passing (250.4) and 19th in points (22.8).

LA Chargers: Eighth in overall offense (392.1 yards), seventh in rushing (127.1), 13th in passing (265.0) and tied for 10th in points (26.7).

Defense Rankings

Denver: Twenty-first in overall defense (364.0 yards), 26th in rushing (131.6), 10th in passing (232.4) and 15th in points (23.7).

LA Chargers: Fourteenth in overall defense (356.6 yards), 17th in rushing (112.6), 17th in passing (244.0) and eighth in points (20.7).

Here are our keys to the game.

Limit the damage from coaches

The last time we saw the Broncos in action, the result was all due to Joseph’s incompetence. It’s not possible for Denver to correct the issues in two weeks, so limit the damage. The best way for that to happen: If Joseph and his coaching staff get the urge to do something, do the opposite. Ian St. Clair

Play to players’ strengths

In the Broncos last game against the Houston Texans, Case Keenum had his best game of the season and I think a big part of that was due to Bill Musgrave calling a heck of a lot more play-action, while sticking to the ground game more. Unfortunately, Denver still isn’t finding the end zone enough and that is the key to winning games down the stretch. Keep up the momentum with Keenum by doing the things that make him successful with play calling and working on figuring out some good plays to use down in the red zone to get more touchdowns in games. While my expectations are low for this team now, it would be nice to see them continue battling and getting some wins down the stretch to give the team some confidence heading into next season. — Tim Lynch

Let the Orange Rush loose

The Chargers are quietly having themselves a very good season, and a big part of that is Philip Rivers having what looks to be a career season. He’s on pace for a career high in touchdowns and a full-season career low in interceptions. He’s maintaining the second-highest completion rate of his career and will very likely enjoy a sixth-consecutive 4,000-yard season. On top of that, he’s one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the NFL.

All of that to say that if the Broncos want to win this game, they have to flip that script on Rivers. It’s on Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to step up and shine in this division game. They need to be getting to Rivers early and often. Get some grass stains on his jersey, keep him off balance, and force him to make risky passes under pressure. If Los Angeles gets to operate however it likes on offense, the Broncos will find that nearly impossible to overcome. But if the pass rush can force Rivers and his offense out of their comfort zone, Denver has a chance to capitalize on it and steal a win. — Taylor Kothe

Ninth home game

Broncos Country has to travel like they always use to when the Chargers were in San Diego. They need to turn Carson, California into Denver West (not the mall) and give a true home field advantage to the Broncos. While I’m unsure whether this will actually help Denver win, especially seeing that Rivers loves to piss off the opposition’s fans, it’s the only realistic shot the Broncos have at hanging with the Chargers in California. We’ve seen Denver play better teams close at home (the Kansas City Chiefs and Rams), so my key to the game is for Broncos Country to represent! Let me check on flights to ... dammit, it isn’t San Diego anymore. Screw it, who’s going to the game with me? Muscle Beach is in Santa Monica! Let’s do it! — Pete Baron

Stop Melvin Gordon

If the Broncos want to win, they have to figure out a way to prevent Gordon from taking over. He is a top three running back in the NFL. The only way to slow the Chargers offense down is to eliminate Gordon from the game plan. Not an easy task. The secondary will need to lock up the receivers, so that the linebackers can get in the box. If they can accomplish that, Denver has a shot at a win. — Adam Malnati

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?