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Los Angeles Chargers-Denver Broncos Preview

Week 12 of the NFL season is here, and there are a number of very exciting games to watch on Sunday. The 8-3 Tennessee Titans travel to Foxborough to play against the red-hot 7-4 New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the 7-3 Los Angeles Rams travel to the frozen tundra to face off against the 8-3 Green Bay Packers. NFL fans have a great day of football ahead of them.

The Los Angeles Chargers have a tough matchup this week. The Chargers travel to the Mile High City to face off against the Denver Broncos. Sitting at 6-4, the Chargers are currently second in the AFC West, only 1.5 games behind the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos are in last in the AFC West, yet they are 5-5. The AFC West is in a very interesting spot. Every team is within two games of each other. Every team has a chance at winning the division title. Realistically, though, the Chiefs and Chargers are the teams most likely to fight for the top spot. So what interesting matchups are there in this matchup? Are there any interesting storylines? This is the Chargers-Broncos preview.

Staley vs. Fangio: The Protégé Challenges His Teacher

Brandon Staley and Vic Fangio together


Brandon Staley, left, learned to coach at an NFL level from Vic Fangio, right. (Denver Broncos)

Brandon Staley is in his first year as a head coach for the Chargers. In his first season, he has led his team to a 6-4 record and the runner-up spot in the AFC West. He started his NFL coaching career in Chicago as the outside linebackers’ coach, where he coached under their defensive coordinator named Vic Fangio. Fangio and Staley developed a strong bond in Chicago, and when Fangio got a head coaching gig in Denver, he brought Staley in to be his defensive coordinator.

After a season with Denver, Staley left to take the job as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, where he turned them into the best defense in the league. Now, the two face off for the first time as opposing head coaches. Will Staley seize the day against his former teacher? Or will Fangio be able to snag the win against his student Staley and his Chargers?

Interesting Matchups

Justin Herbert vs. Teddy Bridgewater

Justin Herbert warming up pre-game
Justin Herbert’s performance, as always, will play a massive role in how Sunday’s game against the Broncos plays out. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports)

Justin Herbert finally brought back his superstar self against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. With 382 passing yards on 30/41 (73.2%) with three touchdowns and an interception, Herbert was throwing dimes all over the field. He remains a force on the field that every defensive coordinator needs to plan for. However, now Herbert has potentially introduced a new element to his game: running. Herbert added an extra 90 yards rushing on nine attempts (10 ypc) against the Steelers. If Herbert can continue to evolve like this, no offensive coordinator will be able to hope to contain him.

Teddy Bridgewater has led the Broncos to wins in his own way. There are two ways to be considered a good quarterback. Either you can put up insane stats and utterly dominate opponents like Herbert or Buffalo’s Josh Allen. Another way to win is to simply avoid making mistakes and play it safe, while utilizing a solid running game. Bridgewater and the Broncos do the latter, with a solid running back duo in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. With the three of them, along with a solid defense, the Broncos are able to win games that many would expect them to be crushed in. With these 3, the Chargers cannot view the Broncos as an easy win. Especially in Denver, where the air is thinner, which gives Broncos players a noticeable advantage.

Chargers Receivers vs. Broncos Secondary

The Chargers have a fantastic group of receivers. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams complement each other quite well. Allen’s superb route running and cut speed make him a prime target for short-to-midrange routes that utilize tight cuts or misdirections. Through doing this, Herbert and Allen can slice apart defenses to extend drives. Meanwhile, Williams’s size and top-end speed make him a lethal deep threat, similar in playstyle to the legendary Calvin Johnson. Williams is not the type to leave in single coverage; teams must try to double him, or he will decimate them.

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That said, the Broncos have a possibility of shutting down these receivers. The Broncos boast one of, if not the best free safety in the entire league, Justin Simmons. Simmons boasts a Pro Bowl selection and second-team All-Pro selection just last season. Broncos fans might say that him getting second-team is a snub, which might possibly be true. Very few, if any, free safeties in the league can say that they are definitely better than Simmons. It’s likely he will be used to limit the production of deep-ball threats like Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton.

The Broncos’ secondary also has rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Surtain has had a solid rookie campaign so far, though he and his fellow rookie cornerbacks have been in the spotlight this season. During the 2020 NFL Draft, there were three cornerbacks selected in the first round: Jaycee Horn (Carolina Panthers), Caleb Farley (Tennessee Titans), and Surtain. There was heated debate over whether Horn or Surtain was the better cornerback prospect. In the end, they both have played well. Surtain has 27 tackles and an interception, with nine added passes deflected. Surtain still has the potential to grow even further, and will likely become an even greater piece for the defensive-minded Vic Fangio.

Predictions

The Chargers are currently favored by Vegas to win the game in Denver, with both the spread and money line favoring the Chargers at -2.5 and -145, respectively. The Chargers are off a win in Pittsburgh on primetime, and the offense looked fantastic against the Steelers. Sure, they almost blew the win in the fourth quarter, but they rallied to secure the win, and the Broncos do not have the same kind of offensive firepower as the Steelers. The Broncos, on the other hand, are off a miserable home performance against the Philadelphia Eagles (who the Chargers beat, by the way).

That being said, the Broncos cannot be counted out of this game. If Herbert plays off, and the Broncos secondary shuts down the Chargers receivers, and the Broncos running back duo torches the Chargers’ steadily-improving run defense, then the Broncos will most likely win the game. Otherwise, the Chargers will likely grab another dub on the road. This has been the Chargers-Broncos preview.

 




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