When it comes to rivals of the Denver Broncos, some jump off the page.
Namely two — the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
There’s one that doesn’t get the same level of hatred, but it’s just as historic and that's the Los Angeles Chargers. The addition of Justin Herbert makes the task of beating the Chargers (3-2) each year a difficult one. Such is the case for the Broncos (2-3) on Monday in LA.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, Denver is a current +4.5-point underdog to the Chargers. Based on where these two teams sit, the line makes total sense. In fact, the spread moved from +6.5 earlier in the week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number jump back up to closer to 6 before Monday night.
To preview the game, we go behind enemy lines to get a feel for the Chargers, the players to watch and what to expect in Monday’s game with Michael Peterson from Bolts from the Blue.
MHR: What is the story of the LA Chargers through the first five games?
Peterson: The story of the Los Angeles Chargers through five games is that they’re still an exciting team with one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and a plethora of star power throughout the roster. Unfortunately, what was meant to be a dream season for the Bolts quickly soured following a slew of injuries to some of their premier players. All-Pro left tackle Rashawn Slater is seemingly out for the year with a torn biceps while Pro Bowl edge rusher Joey Bosa is out indefinitely with a groin injury that required surgery. Not to mention the team’s WR1 in Keenan Allen has yet to play a down of football since halftime of week one due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Despite all of the unfortunate injuries, this team is still finding a way to win football games. They’re 3-2 with a chance to be 5-2 by the time their bye week rolls around. As long as Herbert is their quarterback, this team’s ceiling remains high. They do, however, need to reinforce a leaky defense that isn’t playing up to his potential up to this point.
MHR: How do you explain the injuries (if you can)? Is it now expected that, no matter what, the injury bug will hit the Chargers?
Peterson: The injury bug has long been attached to the Chargers organization. Year after year it seems like this club can’t escape the inevitable. They saw a nice break from the bug in 2018 when they went 12-4 and won their first playoff game since 2013. Their injury luck was pretty good a year ago but they just barely missed out on the postseason due to other unfortunate circumstances, mainly some inexcusable losses down the final stretch of the season.
But a real, logical explanation? That I do not have for you. It was first blamed on the previous strength & conditioning coach but he was let go prior to the hiring of Brandon Staley. At this point, it’s just much easier to slap a “curse” tag on the team and move along. it doesn’t make a ton of sense, and the injuries just seem to come in bunches when they do. Just horrid, horrid luck.
MHR: What is your best bet at DraftKings for Monday night’s game? And with the spread Chargers -4.5, what do you think of the line and how would you bet it?
Peterson: My best would be the under on whether or not the first score of the game will from o/u 26.5 yards out. As far as the Chargers being five-point favorites, I’m not terribly surprised as this defense is as legit as they come. However, I believe I would take those odds for the Chargers to win by more than five as I currently predict them to take this game 23-17.
MHR: What’s the thinking on Russell Wilson and the Broncos? To flip it back, who are the Chargers players on both sides of the ball that Broncos Country should keep an eye on?
Peterson: Feelings towards Russell Wilson heading into this game are obviously centered around him just not being an effective quarterback thus far in 2022. His numbers are incredibly underwhelming, but at the same time I don’t think you can still ever take him lightly. It feels like he’s just one game away from returning back to the Wilson we’ve all come to expect over the years.
As for the Chargers, you got to keep an eye on both Khalil Mack and Derwin James on the defensive side of the ball. Both can be game-wreckers when they want to be with the former having a much better matchup this week without the likes of Garrett Bolles starting on the blindside for Wilson. Offensively, Patrick Surtain will have a good challenge against Mike Williams. Surtain’s height and length should help him out a ton here which is why I do not expect a big game from Williams this week. Lastly, the Denver linebackers will have their hands full chasing Austin Ekeler around if the Chargers can continue their recent success running the football.
MHR: What are your expectations/predictions for Monday’s game?
Peterson: As I stated earlier, I predict the final score of this game to be 23-17 in favor of the Chargers. I can’t help but feel like this will be another dogfight in the AFC West with both sides feeling immense stress from the first whistle until the last. That’s just unfortunately how Chargers games go these days. We all might lose a bit of hair, but hopefully it’ll all be worth it when these two divisional rivals meet in primetime.
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