Sunday represents a bit of a crossroads for this Broncos team. The trade deadline is days away and the playoffs are little more than a longshot. With injuries up and down the roster and a struggling quarterback, a loss to rookie Justin Herbert and the plucky Chargers team could push Elway to sell of whatever pieces he can.
With that in mind, what are the Broncos chances against LA? I reached out to Bolts from the Blues’ Michael Peterson to find out.
1st and 10
Justin Herbert looks incredible so far. What could the Broncos do to slow him down? Any notable weaknesses you’ve seen?
Peterson: In all honesty, it’s tough to think of one specific thing that would directly affect Herbert’s game as he’s shown the ability to succeed when kept clean or when pressure is in his face. He looked the most ”off” against the Saints when the offensive line resembled a revolving door against the likes of Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport, so despite his knack for making defenses pay when they blitz, it’s still the easiest way to rattle the rookie.
Herbert’s been asked time and time again to throw the Chargers out of holes when the run game isn’t performing up to par. That can’t last forever. Eventually, the lack of ground game will also come back to bite both Herbert and the Bolts in the back.
There it is. #Chargers will likely be down another player at right guard. If he can't go, Scott Quessenberry took snaps there while Groy was on the sideline against Jacksonville. https://t.co/oIQGFifEdW— Joey BOO-sa (@ZoneTracks) October 29, 2020
2nd and 8
What’s odd about the Chargers offense is they’ve been better throwing than running with a rookie quarterback. Does LA miss Melvin Gordon?
Peterson: I don’t think they miss Melvin Gordon at all. Gordon averaged under4.0 yards per carry for his career and his insanely high usage within the 10-yard line was the big reason why he became a household name in L.A. With as bad as the offensive line has been this season, I don’t think Gordon would have any more success than the rest of the Chargers running backs. Since his fumbling issue hasn’t seemed to go away with a change of scenery, either, I’m glad he isn’t the Bolts’ problem anymore.
3rd and 3
Last year the Broncos leaned heavily on the ground game to limit the damage Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram could inflict and protect their quarterbacks. Could it work again?
Peterson: If you would have asked me before the Jaguars game, I would have said no. But all of a sudden, even after the return of starters Melvin Ingram and Justin Jones from IR, the run defense looked horrendous in their attempt to stop James Robinson this past Sunday. If the defensive interior can’t hunker down and show they improved this offseason with the addition of Linval Joseph, it’s going to be another season of watching offenses gash the Bolts up the middle. Lindsay has the top-end speed and wiggle to make the Chargers pay throughout the game on Sunday.
4th and inches
No Chris Harris, no Derwin James. Is this a sneaky good matchup for the Broncos receivers? How could Drew Lock attack LA through the air?
Peterson: It could be. The Bolts have struggled against speed this year as Michael Davis is the only member of the secondary with anything close to elite speed. Hayward has been underwhelming this year and opposing offenses have targeted him at a higher rate than usual. Second-year free safety Nasir Adderley and strong safety Rayshawn Jenkins have also been weak points in the secondary. Adderley has been stressed a ton in single high looks when facing multiple vertical routes and Jenkins has struggled making tackles at the second and third levels.
The excellent route-running of wideout Jerry Jeudy and superb athleticism of tight end Noah Fant could be keys to beating the Chargers on Sunday.
Noah Fant, on getting the passing game going: “At some point it’s like, ‘Put up or shut up.’"— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 27, 2020
What’s your prediction for the game?
Peterson: I think the Chargers continue their momentum from the Jaguars game and find a way to win a close game in Denver. The Broncos have always played the Chargers tough, regardless of how good either team is at that point in the year. I think Denver makes a number of splash plays, but Justin Herbert and the offense is able to play keep up before the defense records their first takeaway in the fourth quarter which helpsput the game away.
Chargers win 23-17
Who ya got?
This poll is closed
Broncos by a ton.
Broncos by a little.
Chargers by a ton.
Chargers by a little.