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Can the Broncos beat the Bolts again?

I spoke with Bolts from the Blue’s Michael Peterson to find out.

The last time Denver played Los Angeles, K.J. Hamler scored his first touchdown in the closing seconds to cap off a dramatic 31-30 comeback. The final touchdown drive goes down as arguably the best moment in this Broncos’ season. With Drew Lock set to face the Chargers for the third time in his NFL career, I reached out to Bolts from the Blue’s Michael Peterson to get the scoop on L.A.

1st and 10

Fangio favors light boxes in an effort to play the pass first, which means giving up some numbers against the run here and there. This will be the Broncos second game with a completely revamped corner room. What do you expect the Chargers to do to attack it?

Peterson: Anthony Lynn wouldn’t be Anthony Lynn if he didn’t attempt to establish the run. After averaging 5.5 yards per tote against Denver in their first matchup, I expect a healthy dose of Austin Ekeler and Kalen Ballage this week. At the same time, the coaching staff has done a better job of letting the offense run through Herbert. I don’t think they’ll limit him as much as they did in the first game, and if the Broncos’ CB room is lackluster, I think they’ll get after them early with Keenan Allen. Both Allen and Williams are coming off a limited snap count and a long break so that receiver group will have plenty of energy when they take the field on Sunday.

2nd and 10

Since the last Broncos game, Justin Herbert has thrown for just under 2,000 yards to go with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. There are some who think he should have made the Pro Bowl. He was a Bryce Callahan endzone pick away from icing the Chargers game in week 8.

How can Fangio slow him down?

Peterson: Fangio should watch all of the game film of the Chargers against the AFC East and prepare to throw a ton of zero blitzes and stunts at the L.A. front five. The Chargers offensive line has struggled with picking up pressure and it’s been the biggest variable in looking at the splits of when Herbert is successful and when he struggles mightily. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still one of the better quarterbacks against pressure, but he can only make up for bad line play for so long. If you get people in his face, especially up the middle, he’ll start to crumble.

3rd and 2

The Broncos offense was miserable for half of the first meeting before exploding down the stretch. It remains the worst performance of the season by the LA defense per DVOA. What do you expect them to do to keep the lid on Lock and the passing attack this time around?

Peterson: Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley told the media last week that the defense has been playing more man coverage and he thinks that’s why they’ve been able to take the ball away at a more consistent rate. With that in mind, I believe they’ll stick with the approach. After all, it’s led to two straight wins so why change it now? One other overlooked improvement of this defense has been the linebackers in coverage. Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White were exploited a ton during the first half of the season. That is no longer the case. They haven’t shown up a ton in the box score, but both have been solid and haven’t allowed many yards over the last five to six weeks.

At the same time, the Chargers will likely be without Joey Bosa this week after he sustained his second concussion of the season. He may be out for the season at this rate.

4th and 1

You’re someone I’ve talked to a number of times over the past few years and I respect your opinion. As a division rival, what do you hope the Broncos do with Lock and the QB position this spring?

Peterson: I’m on the fence with Lock. He’s shown promise and no promise at all through the first two years of his career. I honestly don’t think they’ve played to his strengths as much as they should be. They should take a look at the second half of their first matchup with the Chargers and simply duplicate that effort at all times. Keep him rolling at a steady pace and don’t put him in positions where he has to think too much. Lock has always seemed like a “ball-player” in that he’s at his best when you tell him to just go out there and sling it. If you stick with Lock in 2021, I think it’s imperative that you get an established veteran in the quarterback room. If they want to move on, they may have to trade up to land one of the league’s top passers.

Extra Point

What’s your prediction for the game?

Peterson: In the same manner of their win over the Raiders, I think the Chargers and Broncos will play another close game but the Bolts will find a way to flip the script. The Chargers haven’t been on a three-game win streak since the 2018 season and this is a prime opportunity to make that happen. I think Herbert has learned from his mistakes and will be much more careful with the ball this time around.

Final score: Chargers 26, Broncos 20

Poll

Who ya got?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Broncos by a ton.
    (28 votes)
  • 37%
    Broncos by a little.
    (135 votes)
  • 15%
    Bolts by a ton.
    (55 votes)
  • 38%
    Bolts by a little.
    (139 votes)
357 votes total Vote Now