The Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) will head to Broncos Stadium At Mile High to meet the Denver Broncos (6-9) in Week 17 (December 30, 2018 at 4:25pm EST). The Chargers opened as 6.5-point favorites.
The best way to describe the Chargers’ offense is opportunistic. They own the league’s 12th-ranked passing attack and 15th-ranked rushing attack. But the so-so balanced offense has actually led to an impressive 27 points per game (fifth).
Los Angeles has done a great job taking advantage of favorable field position this year, scoring on most occasions. Philip Rivers has thrown for 31 TDs (seventh-most in the NFL), while Melvin Gordon III has added 10 of his own on the ground.
These two will need to continue finding their way across the goal line this Sunday to give themselves a chance to take the AFC West, after squandering a huge opportunity last week against the Ravens.
For as good as Los Angeles’ offense has been, their defense is right there, too. The Chargers surrender just 21.3 points per game, good for ninth-best in the NFL.
This is a unit that prides themselves on defending the pass. Los Angeles only cedes 223.9 yards per game through the air (7th).
Fortunately, Los Angeles’s defense avoids any sort of offensive powerhouse this week, when they take the field against the Broncos. Denver is scoring just 21.3 points per game (22nd).
When you can’t throw the ball, scoring points in today’s NFL is pretty difficult. This is what Denver is facing, as their miserable passing attack has led to defenses stacking the box to slow Phillip Lindsay, daring Case Keenum to beat them with his arm.
Keenum has not proven he can consistently punish a defense this season, and until he does so, the Broncos can expect to continue seeing extra defenders at the line of scrimmage.
The pivot has thrown for just 3,598 yards with a 17:14 touchdown to interception ratio. Denver needs Keenum to step up in Week 17, though, as they meet a Chargers defense that ranks 9th against the run.
If he is unable to make a few big plays through the air, it could be a long day for the Broncos offense.
On the other side of the ball, Denver’s defense has been great. They’re permitting just 21.7 points per game, ranking 12th in the NFL.
Teams have had enough difficulty protecting the football, let alone putting it in the endzone against this defense. The Broncos have taken the ball away 22 times this season, ranking 10th in the NFL.
And they’ve even contributed some points of their own, finding the endzone two times. Ball security will be vital for Los Angeles against this ball-hawking defense in Week 17.
The last meeting between these two came on November 18th, 2018, when Denver upset Los Angeles 23-22. The Chargers were also 7.5-point favorites in that game.