Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos: Storylines, prediction for AFC West clash

The Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos is a divisional battle where anything could happen. Can Justin Herbert improve his MVP odds?

The Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos matchup is a game of two teams jockeying for position in the AFC playoff standings. Los Angeles is a win behind Kansas City in the AFC West. Meanwhile, the Broncos are two games behind the Chiefs and one behind the seventh seed in the AFC (currently 12th in the conference). There are few legitimate must-wins in November, but both teams could use a divisional and conference win for playoff purposes.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos storylines

Justin Herbert currently sits seventh in the odds for MVP, but the season is far from over. Not only is it a long season, but it’s also a season in which no quarterback has appeared willing or able to separate.

Justin Herbert could help MVP odds with big game

Maybe if Kyler Murray had played the past three weeks, he’d be walking away with the award, but we can only project. Denver’s secondary is uniquely talented when healthy but is currently missing Bryce Callahan and Michael Ojemudia.

Still, that leaves a group consisting of Patrick Surtain II, Justin Simmons, Ronald Darby, Kareem Jackson, and Kyle Fuller.

FanDuel Sportsbook

States: NY, AZ, PA, NJ, IA, IL, CO, IN, TN, VA, WV, MI

GET THE APP
NEW PLAYER BONUSBET $5, WIN $150!
30-1 ODDS ON ANY GAME!
BET NOW

Herbert must be efficient, and if the Broncos decide to live in man coverage, he must mimic his game plan against the Steelers and use his athleticism to pick up yards on the ground.

We’re acutely aware of his arm talent at this point. If the offense performs well against Denver and they win this game, Herbert’s MVP odds should improve.

Can the Broncos’ run game dictate game flow vs. Chargers?

Whenever there is a battle between a juggernaut run defense and an excellent run game, it’s difficult to predict the outcome. However, in a fight between a complete waste of run defense against a poor rushing team, I usually air on the side of offense prevailing.

The Broncos have two talented backs to carry the load. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon both have juice, and Williams’ power and contact balance make him a weapon even after contact.

The Chargers’ run defense is a struggle for multiple reasons. They lack high-end talent at defensive tackle. They’re incredibly inept at defending the run on the interior. The linebackers are underperforming, which is partially a product of the line. Regardless, the biggest issue is schematic. They simply don’t have enough bodies to cover every gap in their two-high shell.

So, the Broncos should have numbers, and in a one-on-one situation, they have the backs to break tackles or make defenders miss.

Chargers need a win to overtake the Chiefs

The Chiefs are currently 7-4, but they’re on a bye and don’t play this week. That allows the Chargers to catch them record-wise, and they own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The two teams still have another game between them, and they each face the Broncos twice, the Raiders once more, and the Bengals.

But the pressure is on Los Angeles. The Chiefs have been there before. The Chargers have been Chargering. I’m not sure what voodoo was put on this team, but if they’re ever going to overcome their curse, it’ll be Herbert penetrating the walls of the spell through the sheer velocity of his passes.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos betting odds and score prediction

The Chargers are a 3-point favorite on the road against Denver. After last week, I have total faith in Herbert working through adversity and overcoming despite the team he plays for. The 2021 season is where this team’s narrative ceases to exist, as Herbert should elevate them from the abyss, leaving Atlanta as the only genuinely cursed franchise.

There are worse franchises than both the Chargers and the Falcons. But Los Angeles and Atlanta must overcome external demons on top of whatever team they play on a given week.

Chargers vs. Broncos prediction: Chargers 27, Broncos 21

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch.

FEATURED
PFN NEWSLETTER

Every day, get free NFL updates sent straight to your inbox!

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]