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Scouting Report: Broncos vs. Chargers

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The Los Angeles Chargers (7-2) return to ROKiT Field at StubHub Center when they host their AFC West rival Denver Broncos (3-6). Kickoff is set for 1:05pm PT.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s offense is red-hot, led by an equally scalding Philip Rivers. Number 17 has completed 183 of 272 attempts (67.3 percent) for 2,459 yards, 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions for a 115.4 passer rating. He’s thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game this season. Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon is putting up numbers rarely seen over the past 10 years. The running back has posted five-straight games with at least 120 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. He joins Jamaal Charles as the only players over the past decade to author such a streak. Among players with at least 125 carries, Gordon leads the NFL in yards per carry (5.38). Overall, he’s carried the ball 125 times for 672 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s chipped in through the air with 36 catches for 361 yards and four TDs. Finally, the Bolts’ top option through the air has been Keenan Allen, who leads the team in catches (53) and yards (687).

On Offense for the Broncos

There’s been a new quarterback under center for Denver this year in Case Keenum, who joined the Broncos this offseason after a career-year with the Minnesota Vikings. The veteran passer has completed 220 of 330 attempts (63.6 percent) for 2,400 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, equaling an 83.9 passer rating.  Emmanuel Sanders has been Keenum’s top target as the veteran has 56 receptions on the year for 707 yards and three scores. The Broncos recently traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans, opening up playing time for second-round pick Courtland Sutton. So far, the rookie has hauled in 20 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, the player the Bolts must key in on is Phillip Lindsay, who has burst onto the scene after not being selected in this year’s draft. The rookie has made teams look silly, averaging a gaudy 5.4 yards per carry as he’s toted the rock 110 times for 591 yards and three touchdowns. He’s joined by Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker to form a dangerous three-headed monster out of the backfield that can beat you on the ground as well as through the air. 

On Defense for the Chargers

Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley’s unit has been lights out as of late, giving up the fewest total points in the league over the last five weeks (66).  Dating back to Week 4 and the beginning of the team’s six-game winning stream, the defense has allowed a mere 15.5 points per game. Derwin James leads the team with 68 tackles while Desmond King passes the squad in interceptions (three) and passes defensed (10). Meanwhile, Melvin Ingram paces the defense with 5.5 sacks while Isaac Rochell is right behind him with 4.5. 

On Defense for the Broncos

Denver has one of the league’s most ferocious tag-team pass rushers as veteran Von Miller pairs with first-round pick Bradley Chubb to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Miller has been up to his usual tricks, ranking third in the league with 9.0 sacks. Meanwhile, Chubb is one of his pace as he’s dropped the quarterback 8.0 times this year. In addition, Todd Davis has been all over the place from his inside linebacker spot, leading the team with 67 tackles while safety Justin Simmons paces the Broncos with a pair of picks.

Series History

Denver lead the all-time series 64-51-1, yet were shutout by the Bolts, 21-0, last year at StubHub Center.

By the Numbers

The Chargers rank eighth in total offense (392.1 yards per game), 13th in passing (265.0 ypg), seventh in rushing (127.1 ypg) and 10th in points (26.7). The Broncos rank 11th in total offense (377.1 ypg), 17th in passing (250.4 ypg), ninth in rushing (126.7 ypg) and 19th in points (22.8).

Defensively, the Bolts rank 14th in total defense (356.6 ypg), 17th in passing (244.0 ypg), 17th in rushing (112.6 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (20.7). Denver ranks 21st in total defense (364.0 ypg), 10th in passing (232.4 ypg), 26th in rushing (131.6 ypg) and 15th in points allowed (23.7).

Milestones on the Horizon

Keenan Allen needs two receptions to reach 378 for his career to pass RB Ronnie Harmon (377) for seventh in Chargers history.

Allen needs 100-plus receiving yards to post the 21st 100-yard game of his career to tie TE Antonio Gates for the fifth-most in team annals,

Allen needs 58 receiving yards to reach 4,755 for his career to pass WR Vincent Jackson (4,754) for No. 9 in team history.

Antonio Gates needs four receptions to reach 944 for his career and pass WR Derrick Mason (943) for 18th in NFL history.

Philip Rivers’ next start will mark his 202nd straight, tying G Randall McDaniel for the ninth-longest streak since at least 1970.

Michael Badgley needs just five points to set a team record for points scored by a kicker in team history through the first four games of his career without a missed kick (Nate Kaeding, 28 points).

Melvin Ingram needs 3.5 sacks to reach 44.0 for his career to pass LB Shawne Merriman for No. 6 in team history.

Corey Liuget needs one sack to reach 25.0 for his career, passing John Parrella (24.5) for the most in team history among defensive tackles.

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.

Overall, Philip Rivers has faced the Broncos 24 times in his career. He has completed 455 of 739 (61.6 percent) for 5,496 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has thrown for three or more touchdowns on four occasions against Denver.

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.

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. 

Adrian Phillips recorded his first NFL interception in the 2015 season finale off the Broncos’ Brock Osweiler. He picked off the Broncos again in the 2017 season opener.

Connections

Chargers tight end Virgil Green played for the Broncos from 2011-17.

Guard Michael Schofield played for the Broncos from 2014-16.

Head Coach Anthony Lynn played for Denver in 1993 as well as from 1998-99. He also served as the team’s offensive and special teams assistant from 2000-02.

Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus served in the same role for Denver from 2000-02 as well as 2011-12.

Linebackers Coach Richard Smith coached special teams in Denver from 1993-96 as well as linebackers from 2011-14.

Assistant Special Teams Coach Keith Burns served in the same role from 2007-12 for the Broncos, following three stints on the active roster (1994-98, 2000-03, 2005-06).

Broncos Tight Ends Coach Geep Chryst was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers for two seasons (1999-00).

Defensive Backs Coach Greg Williams was on the defensive coaching staff for the Chargers from 2009-15.

Broadcast Information

CBS – Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst) and Evan Washburn (sideline)

KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)

Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)

Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across ten 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) and KATY-FM (San Bernardino). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).

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