A key battle for position in the AFC West will highlight Monday Night Football in Week 6. The Denver Broncos, at 2-3, will head to Los Angeles to face the 3-2 Chargers with second place at stake. The Chargers have won two straight to pull to a game behind the Chiefs and past the Broncos, who have dropped two in a row.
Denver will be coming off of a mini-bye after playing on Thursday night in Week 5 and getting the weekend off to recover. The Broncos lost an overtime battle to the Colts, 12-9, in a game that featured sluggish offenses in prime time.
The Chargers barely survived on Sunday against the Browns, winning 30-28 when Cleveland missed a potential game-winning field goal at the end.
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Monday, October 17, 2022 – 08:15 PM EDT at SoFi Stadium
Denver Broncos Analysis
The Broncos’ offense has been putrid most of the season. Thursday’s nine-point outing was just the latest in a season that has seen Denver put up 16 twice and 11 once in their first five games.
Russell Wilson has not given the team the spark at quarterback it hoped for. He had a rough night against the Colts, throwing an interception in the end zone near the end of regulation that allowed Indianapolis to tie the game and send it to overtime, then missing a wide-open receiver in overtime on what could have been a game-winning score.
News reports surfaced over the weekend that Wilson has been playing with a partially torn lat in his right shoulder, an injury he suffered early in the previous week’s game. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection and is expected to play against the Chargers, although he likely won’t be close to full strength.
Injuries and More Injuries
It’s the latest in a long list of injuries for the Broncos, who played without running back Javonte Williams after he suffered a season-ending knee injury and saw right tackle Garett Bolles get carted off with a knee injury on Thursday night.
On defense, linebackers Josey Jewell and Baron Browning were hurt, along with corner Ronald Darby and defensive end Dre’mont Jones. Bolles and Darby were both placed on injured reserve at the start of the week. The team will look for updates on the other injured players as the week goes on.
Los Angeles Chargers Analysis
Drama in L.A.
The Broncos have gained notoriety this season for coach Nathaniel Hackett’s questionable decision-making, but Chargers coach Brandon Staley had his own players calling him out at the end of the Cleveland game. Staley decided to go for it on fourth down near midfield, up two points late in the game, rather than kicking the ball deep. The try failed and Cleveland took over close to field goal range.
Injured receiver Keenan Allen tweeted during the sequence asking what the coach was thinking. Cleveland’s last-second kick was missed, and there seems to be no lingering animosity over the social media call-out.
More importantly, the team is hopeful that Allen, who is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, will be able to return to the field on Monday night.
Problems on Both Sides
While the Chargers put up 30 points, they had an uncharacteristic off night on offense. Justin Herbert snapped his string of seven straight road games with 300 passing yards when he was held to 228. The Chargers instead turned to the run game, led by Austin Ekeler’s 173 yards.
On defense, Los Angeles has some lingering question marks. The Chargers gave up almost as many run yards as they gained, and they’ve allowed more than 160 yards a week in the last three games.
The Chargers were without their kicker, Dustin Hopkins, who suffered a quad injury. Rookie Taylor Bertolet made his NFL debut.
Broncos vs. Chargers: Pick and Prediction
The Broncos have been strong on defense, but the Chargers’ offense will be another level of challenge altogether.
For your NFL picks, look for Los Angeles to put up points in bunches and for an injured, struggling Russell Wilson to have trouble keeping up. The Chargers pull away at home.
NFL Pick: Chargers -4.5 (-115) at FanDuel