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Chargers Game Preview: Broncos vs. Chargers, Week 5

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Broadcast Info

  • Sunday Oct. 6, at 1:05 p.m. PT
  • ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park
  • TV: CBS - Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
  • Radio (English): KFI-AM 640 - Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)
  • Radio (Spanish): KFWB-AM 980 - Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)
  • APP: Chargers Mobile (iOS), Yahoo Sports (Android)

For more information on how to watch the game including the mobile app and live streaming, click here.

All-Time Series

The Broncos lead the all-time regular season series, 65-52-1, as the two teams are 3-3 in the last three seasons. The Broncos won the last game in Los Angeles, 23-22, as the Chargers capped off the 2018 regular season with a 23-9 win in Denver. The Bolts hold a 34-25 advantage at home and have outscored the Broncos, 1,401-1,122 in those contests.

Broncos’ Last Time Out

The Broncos dropped to 0-4 after losing on a last-second field goal to the Jaguars, to fall at home, 26-24. Emmanuel Sanders eclipsed 100 yards receiving while rookie tight end Noah Fant caught his first career touchdown. Joe Flacco passed for 303 yards and three scores while Von Miller tallied two sacks. On the season, Flacco has passed for 1,076 yards and five scores while Phillip Lindsay leads the team with 213 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

Injuries

For the Broncos injury report, click here.

Storylines

Big Week for Melvin Gordon

Head coach Anthony Lynn said that it was “very tempting” to play Melvin Gordon at the end of last week’s game against the Dolphins; however, he knew the running back had only two practices under his belt and it was best to temper that urge and get Gordon more practice time.

Now, in his second week back with the team, Gordon is getting those crucial practice reps, though his role in Sunday’s game against the Broncos remains to be seen.

In the meantime, quarterback Philip Rivers is excited to have Gordon back in the offense.

“This will be a big week for him practice-wise,” said Rivers. “I’ve always talked about the reps being the most important (part) of getting him in there… Like I said last week, he still looks good. He didn’t mentally check out.”

Meanwhile, running back Austin Ekeler, who played every snap of the Chargers’ 16-play, 66-yard drive last week against the Dolphins, is looking forward to Gordon’s return so he can catch a breather.

“Shoot, (Gordon) was talking to me last week. (After the 16-play drive) I was like, ‘Gah, I’m so tired.’ And he told me, ‘Don’t worry man, (I’ll be) back.’”

In seven career games against the Broncos, Gordon has 463 yards rushing, 194 receiving yards, and one touchdown.

Chargers Roster Moves

After a win over the Dolphins which saw 45 of 46 active players play at least one snap, Lynn has placed trust in his entire roster in the midst of some key absences due to injury.

“I like the fact that these guys are playing now and they’re stepping up because later in the year you have to depend on these guys anyway,” Lynn said.

With multiple injuries during Sunday’s game, including an Achilles injury to tight end Sean Culkin that landed him in injured reserve on Tuesday, Lynn said fullback Derek Watt could see some snaps at tight end.

“Derek has done a nice job of playing fullback and tight end,” Lynn said. “I tell him all the time, ‘You’re going to be our Dallas Clark,’ because he reminds me of (him). He can block on the line of scrimmage, he’s a good receiver out of the backfield (and) we can use Derek in a number of ways.”

Additionally, the Chargers made multiple roster moves, including adding players to the practice squad and promoting tight end Stephen Anderson to the active roster.

Anderson joined the Chargers after being on the New England Patriots’ practice squad. The 6-3 tight end has played in 28 career games and made five starts for the Houston Texans, catching 36 passes for 435 yards and two scores. He played in 15 games and caught 25 passes for 342 yards and a touchdown with Houston in 2017.

Also, the Chargers signed kicker Chase McLaughlin Wednesday. When asked about McLaughlin’s expected role, Lynn said that the newly signed kicker is “insurance” in the kicking game given soreness to punter Ty Long’s plant foot and kicker Michael Badgley still being sidelined.

A Deceiving 0-4

The Broncos arrive at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park with an 0-4 record. Their inability to hold leads has been a problem for head coach Vic Fangio’s team, as they’ve suffered two losses on game-winning field goals in the final seconds of the game.

“There’s been a lot of buy-in here,” Fangio said. “I still think these guys believe in themselves and we are in that one-day-at-a-time mode right now. We’ll keep grinding away and trying to figure out how to win a game.”

Even coach Lynn knows not to underestimate an 0-4 team, especially a division rival hungry for its first win.

“There’s so much parity in this league it's ridiculous,” Lynn said. “And forget what the records are, this is a week-to-week league where if you don’t get ready to play, you’ll get your butt kicked.”

Broncos Players and Matchups to Watch

Von Miller vs Chargers O-Line

With Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb suffering a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss against the Jaguars, Denver’s defense may have lost one of their star pass rushers, but should not be underestimated. Linebacker Von Miller, who recorded his first two sacks of the season on Sunday, will still be in the Broncos’ starting lineup and the Chargers are all too familiar with his effectiveness in stifling some of the league’s best offenses.

“They have one of the best game wreckers in the game in Von Miller, so we’ve gotta figure out a way to contain him,” Lynn said. “They had five sacks last week, so the pass rush has picked up in Denver. We’ve got quite the challenge cut out for us this week.”

Despite the loss of Chubb, Fangio has faith in his defense’s ability to control the Chargers offense.

“It’ll be hard,” Fangio said. “Bradley’s a top player in this league and we’ll miss him dearly. But there will be a committee of guys playing in his spot in our different (defensive schemes) at different times.”

Broncos Wide Receivers vs Chargers Secondary

After recording the first two touchdowns of the season on Sunday, second-year wide receiver Courtland Sutton has become a receiving threat alongside veteran Emmanuel Sanders. Sutton has proven to be an effective option for both quarterback Joe Flacco and head coach Fangio, as Sutton’s 309 receiving yards lead the team.

“Courtland’s got good size, good speed and he’s a really good competitor,” said Fangio. “(He has) a good catch radius, I think Joe (Flacco) likes throwing to him. Everything’s been going good for Courtland right now. He’s on the upswing, he’s caught a bunch of balls and made some big plays for us.”

The Chargers will look to stifle Denver’s receiving corps, as the Bolts’ secondary made strides in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins. Rayshawn Jenkins had six total tackles, Desmond King had 2.5 sacks, and Michael Davis recorded his first career interception as a part of a Chargers defense that didn’t allow a point in the second half.

Take an inside look as the Chargers took the Hoag Performance Center field to begin preparations for the Broncos.

Philip Rivers vs Broncos Passing Defense

The Broncos’ pass defense ranks fifth in the NFL, allowing an average of 200 passing yards per game. Simultaneously, Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are third in the league with 300.3 net passing yards per game.

“Their secondary in the back end is very impressive,” Lynn said. “They have good veteran leadership back there with Chris Harris, (Justin) Simmons and (Kareem) Jackson.”

Harris and Jackson are two veterans who each have over 15 career interceptions, while the combination of all three has been particularly effective in pressuring opposing wide receivers this season.

Phillip Lindsay

Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay and Chargers running back Ekeler are setting the standard for undrafted running backs in the NFL. Lindsay, who went undrafted out of the University of Colorado, Boulder, quickly emerged as the Broncos’ primary rushing option last season.

“He can take the ball the distance every time he touches it,” linebacker Thomas Davis said. “So you have to understand where he is at all times.”

Last season, Lindsay had ten touchdowns and 1,037 rushing yards, the second-best rushing total by an undrafted running back in a single season in NFL history, after only starting eight games in 2018.

“He reminds me of Austin,” linebacker Denzel Perryman said. “(He has a) low sense of gravity, (he’s) quick, (and) it’s hard to bring him down. (He’s) a smaller guy but (he) runs big.”

This season, Lindsay has started all four games for the Broncos and has 216 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

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