To finish the NFL’s Week Six slate of games for the 2022 season, the Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) host the Denver Broncos (2-3) on Monday Night Football. The Chargers will look to build off of the past two week’s road victories and assert themselves back into the running for the AFC West.
The Chargers are entering Week Six with two wins in a row. A matchup with the Broncos on Monday Night Football presents a chance to gain some ground in the division. The Broncos present challenges to the Chargers that might not have been seen in weeks prior. If the Bolts hope to come out with a victory, there are a few items on the docket that will help them get that dub.
Offensive Line Protecting Justin Herbert
Through the first five weeks of the 2022 season, the Chargers are tied with the Browns for the fewest sacks allowed, with each team only allowing five thus far. Despite losing starting left tackle Rashawn Slater in Week Three against the Jaguars, the Chargers have continued to provide Justin Herbert with arguably the best protection in the NFL. In fact, the Chargers have the lowest QB sack percentage in the NFL (2.44%), per teamrankings.com.
Meanwhile, Denver’s defense has the fourth-highest sack percentage in the league (9.09%), per teamrankings.com. Denver’s defensive line is led by defensive end Bradley Chubb, who is tied for the fifth most sacks (5.5) through the first five weeks of the season. The Broncos’ defense as a whole is also tied for the fifth most sacks (17). Bradley Chubb and the Broncos’ defensive front will provide rookie offensive tackle Jamaree Sayler and the rest of the Chargers’ offensive line with the toughest matchup they’ve faced so far this season.
Leaning On The Running Game
Austin Ekeler has reverted to his 2021 form over the past two matchups after providing little to no production through the team’s first three games. Over the past two games, Ekeler has totaled 233 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 75 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns. The Chargers’ will likely have to lean on Ekeler and backup RB Joshua Kelley to efficiently move the ball against the Broncos. The Broncos have also allowed the fewest passing yards (883) and are tied for third lowest yards per pass attempt (6.0) per espn.com.
While I am still projecting Justin Herbert to connect with his pass catchers and move the ball through the air, the Broncos will reduce the efficiency that Chargers fans are used to expecting from Herbert and the rest of the offense. While the Broncos’ defense is elite against opposing passing attacks, they are middle of the pack against opposing running games, ranking 20th in rushing yards per attempt (4.7) and 14th in rushing yards allowed (562). If the Bolts’ offense is successful on Monday Night Football, the running game will play a huge role in this contest.
Applying Pressure On Russell Wilson
The Chargers have been inconsistent in applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks totaling zero, four, zero, one, and six sacks over their first five games. Their most productive efforts have come against teams who rank 18th or worse in QB sacked percentage. Luckily for the Bolts, the Broncos rank 24th (8.6%) in this statistic per teamrankings.com.
Khalil Mack, who ranks seventh in sacks this season with five, and the rest of the Chargers’ defensive front should be able to take full advantage of this matchup. The Chargers’ most dominant victories have come in the games in that they’ve been able to wreak havoc in the opposing offense’s backfield. Applying pressure on Wilson will be key in ensuring a primetime victory.
Converting Third-Down Opportunities
Lastly, the Chargers’ offense will need to be efficient and convert on their third-down opportunities. This will be no easy task against the explosive Broncos’ defense, which ranks sixth in the lowest third-down conversion rate allowed (31.3%) per espn.com.
Herbert and the Chargers’ offense have not been incredibly successful in these situations thus far, as they rank 15th in third-down conversion rate (39.1%). Denver’s defense is currently tied for the 11th most forced third-down attempts (64). With the Chargers facing such a talented defense, third-down opportunities will need to be converted at an efficient rate if the team intends to be successful in their efforts to move the ball down the field.
Forcing Broncos Into Playing Catch-Up
The Chargers have proven to be one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses thus far this season. The Bolts rank ninth in total points scored (122), while the Broncos rank 31st in total points scored (75) per espn.com.
If the Chargers can jump out to an early lead, Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offense won’t be able to keep up. It’s important to note that the Broncos’ game scripts have been part of why they rank so low in points scored, as their defense is tied for the second-fewest points scored (71). With that said, the Chargers are the most prolific offense that the Broncos have faced so far this season and will force them into having to score to remain competitive in this contest. From what the Broncos’ offense has displayed so far this season, they will be unsuccessful if they’re asked to play catch-up.
Final Thoughts/Game Prediction
Although the Broncos’ defense has managed to keep them competitive in their contests this season, their offense is nowhere near the same caliber as the Chargers’ offense. While they may struggle during stretches of the game, I believe that the Chargers will be able to put enough points on the board to put this game out of the Broncos’ inefficient offense’s reach.
I’m predicting the Chargers winning this game with a final score of 27-13. This score prediction would have the Chargers covering their 4.5-point spread and the game hitting the under on the over/ under of 45.5 set by Tipico Sportsbook.
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