The Denver Broncos will host the Los Angeles Chargers at Mile High. A home game is great for the Broncos, but notoriously bad for any of their opponents, due to altitude and home crowd noise. The Chargers have some weapons of their own though, and they’ll be in full use in this Week 1 matchup. Here are some key things to look out for.
Edge rushers – who’s better?
Defensive end Joey Bosa may be “the next great elite defensive player in the NFL”, according to Matt Williamson of FanRag Sports. But Von Miller is still the better player overall in Week 1’s game. However, Miller’s edge counterparts – Bosa and Melvin Engram – may present a real problem.
See, with the retirement of Demarcus Ware, outside linebacker Shane Ray was set to shine in Week 1. Now he’s on injured reserve with a wrist injury. Shaq Barrett would’ve been the ideal No. 3 edge rusher, but with a torn labrum in his hip, who knows how his performance will be affected? Even if head coach Vance Joseph says he is “absolutely” ready to play. Basically, Denver is in the unusual position of boasting both the best and worst player off the edge.
Offensive tackles on both teams are equal
Denver and Los Angeles made a lot of upgrades at offensive tackle back in April. Both offensive lines needed major bolstering. For Denver, Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson are the answer, with Donald Stephenson poised to enter the game if the situation calls for it.
The Chargers’ Joseph Barksdale and Russell Okung seem a little better, but not enough to be a huge threat to the Broncos. Both teams have far from ideal offensive situations and significant help in pass protection for the tackles needs to be incorporated into the gameplan.
Great coverage from both sides
Chargers cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett are going to give Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders a run for their money. Good coverage on the back end will make rushing the passer much easier. Los Angeles’ tight end situation is a lot more secure than Denver’s, but their receivers will have a tough time with the Broncos exceptional corners, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. In this comparison, we have a draw.
The Chargers’ running game
The Broncos’ weakness is the Chargers’ strength. Denver’s defense has the propensity to be exposed in its base, especially in the run game or an attack on their linebackers in coverage. Melvin Gordon brings an x-factor to the Chargers’ running game, and the Broncos don’t quite measure up.
Which set of edge-rushers has a better day may be determined by its running game. In which case, Gordon is more capable of keeping Rivers out of down and distance situations. Denver’s running game may not do that for Trevor Siemian.
This game could either way. Bosa and Ingram have performed better than the Broncos’ edge rushers. Von Miller is elite, but is he better than those two? In coverage, there isn’t much to worry about. If Denver’s running game improves, both teams will be on equal footing. And that will make for a very interesting game.