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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Broncos
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The San Diego Chargers look to bounce back when they host the Denver Broncos in primetime Thursday night. Kickoff at Qualcomm Stadium is set for 5:25pm PT.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Bolts lost another heartbreaker as Drew Kaser couldn’t get the hold down for what should have been a chip shot field goal with two minutes remaining. Instead of tying the game, the Chargers fell 34-31.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers could become the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards on Thursday as he is 124 behind Dan Fouts. He is fresh off a game in which he took a number of deep shots as the Chargers had three players with a catch of at least 50 yards for the first time since 1968. Overall, Rivers has completed 117 of 172 attempts for 1,469 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three picks for a 108.4 passer rating. Travis Benjamin leads the team in catches (28) and yards (394), followed closely by Tyrell Williams (21 for 358). Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon looks to find the end zone for the sixth straight week as his seven touchdowns on the year lead the NFL.
On Offense for the Broncos
Trevor Siemian may be back under center Thursday night after missing the Broncos’ loss last Sunday with a shoulder injury. If not, rookie Paxton Lynch will get his second straight start. Siemian has completed 68 of 101 passes for 824 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions this season while Lynch is 37 of 59 for 393 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas continue to be a dangerous pair of wide receivers. Sanders has caught 32 balls for 373 yards and three TDS while Thomas has 26 catches for 381 yards and a trio of scores. On the ground, C.J. Anderson has carried the rock 84 times for 293 yards and three touchdowns.
On Defense for the Chargers
Joey Bosa hopes to build off his strong debut against the Raiders as he notched five tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks in just 27 plays. San Diego has picked off a pass in five straight games to open the year, including nose tackle Brandon Mebane’s first career interception last week. Melvin Ingram paces the defense with 3.0 sacks while Jatavis Brown leads the way with 28 tackles.
On Defense for the Broncos
The Broncos’ pass rush has been lethal this year, led by Von Miller’s 6.5 sacks which is the second most in the NFL. Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray have been equally productive with 4.0 sacks apiece. In the secondary, Aqib Talib has a team-high three interceptions including a pick-six. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall paces the club with 28 tackles.
The Chargers trail the all-time series 63 – 49 – 1. The Broncos have won the last five meetings with the Bolts most recent victory coming on Thursday Night Football in Denver, winning 27-20 in 2013.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank eighth in total offense (373.2 yards per game), fourth in passing (282.8 ypg), 20th in rushing (90.4 ypg) and second in points (30.4). The Broncos rank 24th total offense (327.2 ypg), 25th in passing (225.8 ypg), 16th in rushing (101.4 ypg) and 10th in points (25.4)
Defensively, the Bolts rank 23rd in total defense (375.0 ypg), 27th in passing (291.6 ypg), eighth in rushing (83.4 ypg) and 27th in points allowed (28.4). Denver ranks sixth in total defense (301.0 ypg), third in passing (185.6 ypg), 22nd in rushing (115.4 ypg) and fifth in points allowed (17.4).
Milestones on the Horizon
Philip Rivers has 42,916 career passing yards, which ranks 14th in NFL history. He needs just 125 against the Broncos to pass Dan Fouts (43,040) for the all-time franchise mark and 13th all-time among all quarterbacks.
Antonio Gates is five touchdown catches shy of Tony Gonzalez (111) for most ever by a tight end and sixth for any player in NFL history.
Melvin Gordon has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Chargers’ first five games of the season. With another against the Broncos, he would become the first Charger since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to score a touchdown in each of the team’s first six games of a season.
Noteworthy vs. the Broncos
During the Chargers’ Oct. 23, 2014 game at Denver, Antonio Gates became the Chargers’ all-time leading receiver, surpassing Lance Alworth (9,854 yards). He passed Alworth on a 31-yard catch to the Broncos’ two-yard line on a 3rd-and-20 that set up a touchdown which tied the game. On Oct. 15, 2012, Gates had two touchdowns for his 15th-career multi-TD game. He also passed Ozzie Newsome for fourth all-time in receiving yards among tight ends. Overall, Gates has faced the Broncos 24 times, catching 93 passes for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In last year’s season finale at Denver, Melvin Ingram had a sack to raise his season total to 10.5. He became the first Charger since Antwan Barnes in 2011 to finish the year with double-digit sacks.
Safety Adrian Phillips recorded his first NFL interception in the 2015 season finale off the Broncos’ Brock Osweiler.
Denzel Perryman racked up a career-high 15 tackles against the Broncos in the teams’ first meeting in 2015.
As a rookie in 2013, Tourek Williams recorded his first NFL sack and forced fumble against the Broncos’ Peyton Manning.
In the 2015 season finale at Denver, Tyrell Williams caught his first NFL pass for an 80-yard touchdown at Sports Authority Field. It tied for the 11th-longest catch in franchise history and was the longest first-catch by any player in franchise history.
Philip Rivers won the AFC Offensive Player of Week and FedEx Air NFL Player of Week awards after a career-best 151.4 passer rating on Oct. 7, 2007 at Denver. That day, he had his first NFL rushing touchdown and he went a perfect 8-of-8 for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter against the Broncos. All in all, Rivers has faced the Broncos 22 times during his career, completing 413 of 657 (62.9%.) for 5,076 yards with 35 touchdowns and 19 interceptions for a career passer rating of 92.4.
A pair of Bolts had big games playing for the Cleveland Browns last year against the Broncos. Travis Benjamin had a career-high nine catches and 117 yards while Pierre Desir had a career-high 12 tackles.
Asante Cleveland had his first NFL catch for New England in a game at Denver Nov. 29, 2015.
As a rookie for the New York Jets in 2008, Dwight Lowery logged his first NFL interception off the Broncos’ Jay Cutler.
Playing for Kansas City in 2011, Dexter McCluster had a 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for the Chiefs’ only points in a 7-3 win over the Broncos.
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane had three solo tackles in Seattle’s win over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Playing for the New York Jets in 2011, Matt Slauson recovered a fumble in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
Playing for Indianapolis in 2015, Griff Whalen had a season-high 73 yards receiving and a career-long 38-yard catch during a 27-24 win over the Broncos.
Head Coach Mike McCoy spent the 2009-12 seasons in Denver as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. In 2012, the Broncos won 13 games, second-most in a season in franchise history, and captured the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs. McCoy also played for the Broncos, signing as an undrafted free agent quarterback in 1995.
Guard Orlando Franklin was drafted by Denver in 2011 and he spent four seasons with the Broncos (2011-14), starting 63 of a possible 64 regular-season games.
Practice squad wide receiver Isaiah Burse spent time with the Broncos from 2014-15, appearing in 12 games in 2014.
Defensive end Tenny Palepoi’s brother, Anton, played defensive end for the Broncos in 2004.
Chargers Defensive Coordinator John Pagano is a native of Boulder, Colo., and he was an all-state linebacker at Fairview High School.
Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus spent two coaching stints in Denver, first as the defensive backs coach from 2001-02 and as the nickel backs coach in 2002, and then later as the secondary coach from 2011-12.
Special Teams Coordinator Craig Aukerman spent one season (2010) with the Broncos where he worked on the same staff as McCoy.
Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson played three seasons in Denver (1990-92) after being selected by the Broncos in the fifth-round of the 1990 NFL Draft. During the 1991-92 seasons, Davidson started 16 games for the Broncos at left tackle and left guard, respectively, and in 1991 he helped protect John Elway’s blind side as Denver reached the AFC Championship Game.
Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips spent three years (2004-06) as San Diego’s defensive coordinator. During that time, the Chargers ranked second in the league in run defense (88.9 ypg) and sacks (136) while twice finishing first in the AFC West standings.
Offensive Line Coach Clancy Barone spent two seasons (2007-08) as the tight ends coach with the Chargers.
Broncos tight end John Phillips joined the Chargers as a free agent in 2013 and played for the Bolts from 2013-15.
Know Your Opponent
CBS Sports (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCAL-TV, Channel 9 in Los Angeles and Orange County), NFL Network and Twitter – Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Phil Simms (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Nick Hardwick (analyst) and Mike Costa (reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego)– Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
All Chargers radio broadcasts are now being streamed live on the team’s official website, www.chargers.com. XTRA Sports 1360 Broadcasts with Josh Lewin (play-by-play) and Nick Hardwick (analyst) will begin two hours before kickoff and continue for 90 minutes of postgame coverage.
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