The Chargers are back in the AFC West this week, as they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. At 3-1, the Chargers can start to widen the gap between themselves and other teams in the division. Here’s our keys to the game along with the prediction for Sunday afternoon.
1. Take Advantage of Red Zone Chances – The Bolts haven’t been all that great inside the 20, as last week they scored one touchdown in four chances inside Miami’s 20-yard line. They have the sixth-best pass attack in the league and are seventh in total yards, so those numbers inside the 20 had better get better if the Chargers are going to improve.
2. Keep Pushing the Ground Game – The Bolts have the 18th-rated ground game, though it appears Ryan Mathews is about to do just that. Mathews (288 rushing yards, 3 TD) is enjoying a productive second season and is on pace to break LaDainian Tomlinson’s franchise mark of 2,000 total yards established back in 2006. The second-year back has accumulated 542 yards of offense in four games and is a threat out of the backfield as well, having made 19 receptions for 254 yards. Mathews had 120 rushing yards and three scores the last time he faced the Broncos, back in the 2010 season finale.
3. Stay Alert on Pass Defense – The Chargers have a solid pass defense, allowing 196.2 yards per game through the air that ranks fifth in the league. Linebacker Takeo Spikes (32 tackles), who is nursing a injured neck and is listed as day-to-day, leads the team in tackles and outside rusher Shaun Phillips (15 tackles, 1 sack) owns three sacks in the Chargers’ past three meetings with the Broncos. Kyle Orton is going to try to get throws down the field, and he has some weapons to hit those passes. The Chargers can’t allow Denver to go up and down the field.
Prediction – The Chargers haven’t knocked my socks off with their play this year, but they have been above average, and now is the time they will start to dominate the division. The Broncos are still in the midst of trying to find themselves, and while John Fox is sticking with Kyle Orton, this year clearly isn’t going as the team thought with injuries as well as poor play in various positions. San Diego 24 Denver 14