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Chargers vs Broncos preview: Can Denver pull another big upset?

The Broncos look to recapture the winning recipe on Sunday vs LA. One way to do that is to run the ball.

Which Denver Broncos team will the fans see on Sunday?

The one that upset the Dallas Cowboys? Or the one that got embarrassed by the Philadelphia Eagles? It would be nice to see the one that stomped the Cowboys on against the Los Angeles Chargers, but good luck trying to figure that out.

The Broncos are currently a +2.5-point underdog to Justin Herbert and LA at DraftKings Sportsbook. When the early lines dropped in mid-May, Denver was the -2.5-point favorite. It’ll be interesting to see if that spread number changes as the game gets closer. If you were curious, the Broncos are 5-5 against the spread. In terms of the total, the over/under sits at 48.5. What’s fascinating about the total, the over has hit just twice in Broncos games this season.

Offensive Rankings

LA Chargers: Eighth in overall offense (386.5 yards per game), 21st in rushing (106.1), sixth in passing (280.4), 11th in scoring offense (26.0 points per game).

Denver: Twentieth in overall offense (342.1 yards per game), 19th in rushing (111.5), 18th in passing (230.6), 23rd in scoring offense (20.0 points per game).

Defensive Rankings

LA Chargers: Seventeenth in overall defense (355.0 yards per game), 32nd in rushing defense (145.1), fifth in passing defense (209.8), 27th in scoring defense (26.5 points per game).

Denver: Ninth in overall defense (328.2 yards per game), 14th in rushing defense (110.1), ninth in passing defense (218.1), third in scoring defense (18.3 points per game).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.

Run the football

It’s no secret how the Broncos have success, especially on offense. Denver needs to run the football. That’s even more paramount since LA has the worst run defense in the NFL. If the Broncos run the ball and do so effectively, it also keeps Herbert and the Chargers offense on the sideline. If ever there was a time to dial up a Tim Tebow game plan, this is it. — Ian St. Clair

Score more points than the Chargers

Some say defense wins championships but scoring more points than your opponent is the true champion winning strategy. If the Broncos do that, they can pull off the upset and stay alive in the ever-competitive AFC West. — Scotty Payne

Fit the game plan to the players

With a young and inexperienced offensive line, we need to focus on runs that can consistently get three yards. Staying out of third-and -ong is critical as Joey Bosa could wreck this game if we have to pass because of yards to the sticks. On defense, we need to hope that our ragtag LB group of castoffs and unwanted veterans can summon up the magic that somehow made the Dallas offense miss easy throws and easy catches. — Joe Mahoney

Attack the Chargers’ weaknesses

The Chargers have two big weaknesses the Broncos’ coaching staff absolutely need to exploit to win the game. The right side of L.A.’s offensive line is among the worst in football with Storm Norton at tackle and former Broncos lineman Michael Schofield at guard. Fangio needs to figure out a way to force them into one-on-ones, whether that’s off of stunts or blitzes. This would be the perfect opportunity for Dre’Mont Jones to have a breakout performance and wake the league up to what he can do.

Offensively, the pressure is on Pat Shurmur to replicate the success he had against Dan Quinn and the Dallas Cowboys. By design, the Bolts don’t put a lot of bodies in the box despite the dearth of talent along the interior defensive line. This means Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon should be able to find success early and often. — Joe Rowles

Get to Herbert

Don’t just harass him, but actually hit him. He makes things happen with his legs. He is a bit of an escape artist. However, QB hits and sacks, not just pressures, will limit his ability to make things happen in the passing attack. — Adam Malnati

What are your keys to Sunday’s game?