This coming matchup between the Broncos and Chargers could potentially be heralding two different eras. Denver looks set to start rookie quarterback Drew Lock in what could be the beginning of his reign atop the depth chart. Meanwhile, murmurs are beginning to grow that Philip Rivers could be playing his last season in Los Angeles, or even perhaps the NFL.
Beyond the signal callers there’s plenty of matchups that could determine the outcome, so I spoke with Michael Peterson of Bolts from the Blue to get his thoughts on the game.
1st and 10
It looks like the Chargers should have some key defensive players back for this weekend. How big a difference could that make in the matchup?
Peterson: The additions of Derwin James and Adrian Phillips alone will do wonders for the Chargers defense in terms of getting their best players back into their most popular packages.
The Chargers were dangerous when they could stay in Dime packages with six defensive backs on the field while Phillips fills in as the Dime linebacker. Derwin erases opposing tight ends and can also move around the box to pressure quarterbacks and sure-up the run defense. Don’t forget that both were First-Team All Pros in 2018, either. This will be the best Chargers defense to take the field in 2019 by far.
Football is better with Derwin Jamespic.twitter.com/dud0Dppt7M— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 27, 2019
2nd and 7
There’s been some speculation that this could be the swan song for Philip Rivers. Do you think so, and what should Broncos’ Country expect from their longtime nemesis on Sunday?
Peterson: The speculation of this being Rivers’ final season with the Chargers is at an all-time high. However, I don’t think there is a strong chance he will not return in 2020. He has voiced his intention to play at least one year in the new stadium set to open next year and unless he finds himself benched before the end of this season, he will be back to lead this team into that new era of Chargers football in Englewood.
As far as what fans of the Broncos can expect from Rivers on Sunday, HOPEFULLY they can expect the veteran to get back to his 2018 form and turn down the volume on his number of turnovers against AFC West opponents. At this very moment, Rivers is sitting with 15 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Through his first three divisional games against the Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs, he has thrown just two touchdowns to a whopping nine interceptions. That’s one of, if not, the biggest reason this team sits at 4-7 with five games left to go in 2019.
Gonna tell my kids that this was Philip Rivers.pic.twitter.com/5AMvKI7fdD— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick3) November 21, 2019
3rd and 3
Are there any matchups in particular that favor the Broncos? Where can Denver win?
Peterson: There aren’t any glaring holes in this Chargers team anymore now that a plethora of injured players are set to suit-up on Sunday after missing most of the season, but the one that always seems to favor the Broncos in this match-up is their run game against the Chargers rush defense. Even with the defensive line at full strength, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman always seem to find a way into the end zone on more than one occasion.
The loss of starting cornerback Michael Davis may end of up having an impact if Casey Hayward chooses not to follow Courtland Sutton around the field. In his place, second-year UDFA Brandon Facyson would get the start. In the few games to start the season where Facyson saw significant time due to injuries ahead of him, opposing quarterbacks abused the youngster throughout.
4th and Inches
What matchups look most favorable to the Chargers?
Peterson: If the Broncos are forced to start Brandon Allen once again, the Chargers defensive line will look to have a field day against a Broncos offensive line that continues to be hampered by left tackle Garrett Bolles and his excessive amount of holding penalties. Joey Bosa has been one of the best defensive ends in the NFL this season against the pass and the run. Melvin Ingram has come on hot in recent games, too. I expect both those guys to meet at the quarterback on multiple occasions this Sunday.
Per @NFLPenaltiesCom, Garett Bolles has now been called for 12 holding penalties this season. Came into the game with 11:— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) November 24, 2019
1 vs. OAK
4 vs. CHI
1 vs. TEN
3 vs. KC
1 vs. CLE
1 vs. MIN
1 vs. BUF
If the Broncos’ spring the win, how do you see it coming about?
Peterson: The only way I can see the Broncos pulling out this win is if they are able to jump out to a two-score lead early in the first quarter similarly to how they started the first match-up between these two teams. The sad thing is, that’s more likely to happen than the Chargers coming out and being competitive in any way to start this game.
My final prediction is a close win by the Chargers, 24-21 where Rivers somehow finds a way to overcome two interceptions in the first half.
Who will win on Sunday?
This poll is closed
Broncos by a lot.
Broncos by a little.
Chargers by a lot.
Chargers by a little.