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Los Angeles Chargers-Denver Broncos Preview

Week 17 of the NFL season is almost here, which means that the regular season is almost at an end. The NFC playoff race is mostly set, with 5 teams having clinched a playoff spot already. All that’s left for the NFC teams is to fight for a better spot in either the playoffs or the draft order.

The AFC is a completely different story. With only two weeks to go, only one team, the Kansas City Chiefs, has clinched a playoff spot. Aside from the Chiefs, every other spot is up for grabs. Not even the 10-5 Tennessee Titans, who sit atop the AFC South, have clinched a playoff spot. Out of the 16 AFC teams, 13 of them are still eligible for the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Chargers, at 8-7, are eighth in the the AFC standings. They are currently one spot out of the playoffs. If the Chargers win their next two games, they have a solid chance of making their way back into the playoffs. But first, they need to get revenge on the Denver Broncos for their crushing defeat in Week 12. Do the Chargers stand a chance of making the playoffs? How does their matchup against the Broncos look? This is the Chargers-Broncos preview.

The Bolts’ Revenge Match

The Los Angeles Chargers were flying high going into their matchup in Denver Week 12. After a big primetime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous week, the Chargers were like Icarus after he got his wax wings. However, also like Icarus, the Chargers flew too close to the Sun and took the Broncos too lightly. In their game against the Broncos, the Chargers got utterly embarrassed, losing 28-13. The Chargers played nothing like the week before. The offense was too predictable, no thanks to offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s terrible playcalling, and the defense got embarrassed by a subpar Denver offense.

This week, though, the Chargers may actually stand a better chance of winning. The Broncos are dealing with a plethora of injuries and players on the reserve/COVID list. Some key missing players for the Broncos include, but are not limited to:

With so many players missing, along with a number of players returning from the reserve/COVID list for the Chargers, this game should be a layup for the Chargers. However, it can never be too easy for the Chargers. After all, one just needs to look at last week’s embarrassing loss against the bottomfeeder Houston Texans. Whether the Chargers can win this game is based on whether the Chargers will stop playing down to their competition and trying to take it easy.

Key Matchups

Broncos Running Backs vs. Chargers Defense

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The last time these teams played, the Broncos running backs had a field day. The combined for 147 rushing yards and a touchdown against a terrible Chargers’ run defense. Couple that with an easy rushing touchdown for Bridgewater, and it appears as if the Chargers couldn’t even stop a toddler if they received a handoff.

The Broncos’ running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon are the dynamic duo that ran circles around the Bolts. Both Williams and Gordon were listed as questionable to play against the Chargers, but were recently activated to play. The Chargers need to prepare as well as they can for these two specifically.

Justin Herbert vs. Pat Surtain II

Justin Herbert throws the ball
Justin Herbert had a rough performance against the Broncos in Week 12, so he will be key in a potential revenge win. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Justin Herbert has had a fantastic 2021 campaign so far. After a historic rookie season, many were wondering whether Herbert would regress or progress this season. After a Pro Bowl selection, in which he was named the AFC starter, it’s safe to say that he progressed a bit. In 15 games (for both seasons), Herbert has more passing yards, passing touchdowns, and a better completion percentage with less pass attempts and completions.

And yet, when the Chargers played the Broncos last, all of that improvement seemed to disappear. Herbert had a terrible game against the Broncos in Week 12. With 303 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, Herbert ended up actually being a liability on the field. And who did those 2 interceptions go to? Pat Surtain II, a rookie cornerback from the University of Alabama.

Surtain picked off Herbert twice in the same game, and even turned one of them into a pick-6. It’s safe to say Surtain had Herbert’s number that game. Herbert will need to be more careful with the ball, particularly when throwing it Surtain’s way on Sunday.

Summary and Predictions

The Chargers have no reason to lose this game. If they do lose, the Chargers are effectively out of the playoff race, so they should be playing hungrier than ever before. It’ll be up to the talent of the players to ensure the Chargers bring home a win against these division rivals.


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