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Scouting Report: Broncos vs. Chargers
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The Los Angeles Chargers return home Sunday when they host the Denver Broncos at StubHub Center. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Philip Rivers has been money in the clutch the past two weeks, entering Week 7 having authored back-to-back fourth quarter comebacks. Number 17 has completed 141-of-230 passes (61.3-percent) for 1,633 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions for an 88.2 passer rating. He ranks third in the NFL in pass attempts, fourth in completions and fourth in passing yards. His top target has been Keenan Allen, who ranks ninth in the NFL with 33 receptions and seventh with 446 receiving yards. However, Melvin Gordon has been the team’s most potent weapon, tied for the NFL lead with seven touchdowns (four receiving, three rushing). He’s carried the rock 99 times for 356 yards (3.6 ypc) and caught 28 passes for 222 yards).
On Offense for the Broncos
Despite banging up his shoulder last week vs. the Giants, Trevor Siemian is expected to be under center at StubHub Center. He’s completed 108-of-176 attempts (61.4-percent) for 1,264 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions for an 83.6 passer rating. Demaryius Thomas has been Denver’s most productive receiver, catching 28 passes for 380 yards. Meanwhile, with Emmanuel Sanders out this week, the team will look for Bennie Fowler to step up. The wideout has been effective when called upon, hauling in 13 passes for 140 yards and a pair of TDs. On the ground, C.J. Anderson leads the Broncos with 82 carries for 347 yards (4.2 ypc) and one TD. Jamaal Charles complements him, toting the rock 38 times for 194 yards (5.1 ypc) and one score.
On Defense for the Chargers
Melvin Ingram (7.5) and Joey Bosa (5.5) are the NFL’s top pass rushing duo with a league-high 13 sacks between them. They are the only pair of teammates ranked in the top 10 in the league. Bosa’s 41 total tackles rank second on the team, trailing only second-year linebacker Jatavis Brown. Finally, cornerback Trevor Williams has emerged as a steady force in the secondary with five passes defensed.
On Defense for the Broncos
Von Miller continues to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, totaling 5.0 sacks in five games on the year. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall has been a tackling machine, totaling 35 to lead the league’s top ranked defense. Finally, three players from the Broncos’ vaunted secondary have recorded picks on the year in Justin Simmons, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby.
Denver holds an all-time series advantage of 65-50-1. Despite the Broncos holding a firm series lead, the scoring in the series has been nearly identical as the Broncos hold a slight 2,495-2,491 points advantage. The Chargers are 33-24-0 all-time at home against the Broncos with their last victory against the division foe coming last season (10/13/16) by the score of 21-13.
By the Numbers
The Chargers rank 14th in total offense (345.2 yards per game), fourth in passing (266.2 ypg), 31st in rushing (79.0 ypg) and 23rd in points (19.3). The Broncos rank 12th in total offense (355.4 ypg), 14th in passing (231.8 ypg), ninth in rushing (123.6 ypg) and 16th in points (21.6).
Defensively, the Bolts rank 18th in total defense (338.5 ypg), fourth in passing (186.0 ypg), 32nd in rushing (152.5 ypg) and 16th in points allowed (21.8). Denver ranks first in total defense (261.8 ypg), sixth in passing (191.6 ypg), second in rushing (70.2 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (19.4).
Milestones on the Horizon
The next touchdown pass between Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates will be the 86th connection for the pair, breaking a tie with Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second-most in NFL history.
Gates is 11 catches shy of tying Torry Holt for 20th-most receptions in NFL history.
Melvin Gordon is six rushing yards shy of 2,000 for his career. He’ll become only the 12th player in team history to reach 2,000 career rushing yards.
Keenan Allen needs six catches to reach 260 for his career, which would pass Terrell Fletcher for 14th in team history. With seven more, he’ll pass Freddie Jones for 13th in team history.
With one more touchdown catch, Tyrell Williams will become the 10th Charger to ever reach double-digits in TD receptions.
Noteworthy vs. the Broncos
On Oct. 23, 2014 at Denver, Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes to raise his career total to 241, passing Len Dawson (239) for 19th all-time. That same day, Rivers passed Johnny Unitas (2,830) for 25th all-time in career completions. On Dec. 14, 2014 against Denver, Rivers threw his 248th career touchdown pass, passing Boomer Esiason (247) for 17th all-time.
Philip Rivers attempted 47 passes against the Broncos on Oct. 30, 2016, and in the process, moved past Dan Fouts (5,604) for the most pass attempts in franchise history.
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, 7-7. He also had two second-half touchdowns in that game. Later, in the season’s second meeting on Dec. 14, 2014, Gates had his 10th touchdown catch of the season, joining New England’s Rob Gronkowski as the only tight ends in NFL history with four 10-touchdown seasons.
Throughout his career, Gates has faced the Broncos 24 times, logging 93 catches for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns.
On Dec. 14, 2013, Jahleel Addae had a regular-season, career-high 10 tackles against the Broncos. Four weeks later when the teams met in the Divisional Playoffs, Addae had postseason career-high eight stops and a forced fumble.
Safety Adrian Phillips recorded his first NFL interception in the 2015 season finale off the Broncos’ Brock Osweiler.
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 it was the longest first-catch by any player in franchise history.
Melvin Gordon led the Chargers with a then career-high 155 yards from scrimmage on Oct. 30, 2016, including 111 yards rushing. He became the first running back since Week 2 of the 2015 season to rush for more than 100 yards against Denver’s defense.
Drew Kaser averaged 57.0 yards per punt in the 2016 finale between the two teams, tied for third-highest in a game in franchise history, on five punts, including a season-long 62 yarder.
Playing for Cleveland in 2015, Travis Benjamin had a career-high nine catches and 117 yards in a game against 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.
Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy was head coach of the Chargers from 2013-16.
Tight Ends Coach Geep Chryst coached for the Chargers from 1999-2000.
Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson coached offensive line for the Chargers in 2016 under McCoy.
Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn played in Denver with Broncos President of Football Operations & General Manager John Elway (1997-1999) while Senior Advisor Gary Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. They were Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII Champions.
In 1993, Anthony Lynn played with Broncos Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson in Denver.
Lynn coached in Denver from 2000-02.
T Russell Okung played in Denver during the 2016 season.
Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus coached in Denver from 2000-02 and 2011-12.
Assistant Offensive Line Coach James Cregg coached in Denver from 2014-16.
Linebackers Coach Richard Smith coached in Denver from 1992-96 and 2011-14.
G Michael Schofield played in Denver from 2014-17 after being selected by the Broncos in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He was the starting right tackle in Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win.
CBS – Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analyst) and Amanda Balionis (sideline)
KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Nick Hardwick (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Tony Alvarez (analyst)
Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across 11 radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville/Hesperia), KATY-FM (San Bernardino) and KPLY-AM (Reno). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).