Chargers vs. Broncos: Keys to victory, matchup to watch

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·2 min read
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  • Los Angeles Chargers
    Los Angeles Chargers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Justin Jones
    Justin Jones
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  • Justin Herbert
    Justin Herbert
    American football player (1998–)
  • Austin Ekeler
    Austin Ekeler
    American football player
  • Justin Jackson
    Justin Jackson
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  • Vic Fangio
    American football coach
  • Joey Bosa
    Joey Bosa
    American football player
  • Derwin James Jr.
    Derwin James Jr.
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Heading into their matchup against the Broncos, the Chargers should benefit from having key players back after missing 14 to COVID-19 in their loss to the Texans, including Austin Ekeler, Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Michael Davis, Justin Jones, and Mike Williams. However, specific things must be properly executed on both sides of the football to beat Denver on Sunday and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Offensively, it starts with taking care of the football. The last time the Chargers faced the Broncos, Justin Herbert was picked off twice. Vic Fangio had his head spinning with disguised looks, which means Herbert must do a better job of identifying coverage and anticipating the voids. To aid him, the protection must be on its A-game to buy him time against a Denver front that’s one of the best at generating pressure. To keep all the weight off Herbert’s shoulders, the ground game must get going, and there’s a good shot with Ekeler returning and Justin Jackson hitting his stride. Without Ekeler last weekend, Justin Jackson ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

On the other side of the ball, slowing down the run is key. After showing improvement in this area, Los Angeles allowed 5.3 yards per carry last weekend. While the team should benefit from having Bosa and Jones back, gap discipline upfront and sound tackling from the second and third levels is still essential. In addition, the Bolts must exploit an offensive line that has allowed pressure on 39% of dropbacks overall this season, tied for last in the league, and get to Drew Lock, especially in third-down situations, where they’re dead-last.

Key matchup to watch: Vic Fangio vs. Justin Herbert. There’s one thing that Herbert has had a hard time with this season, and that’s late movement and disguised looks in the secondary. It has led to his internal clock being sped up, resulting in questionable decisions and throws. In one of the most crucial games of the season, Herbert’s play will largely dictate whether or not the Chargers will be playing beyond the regular season.