Opposition Research: Breaking Down The Broncos

The Chargers will look to continue their momentum from the last two weeks and pick up their first victory in Los Angeles when the Broncos come to play on Sunday. This is the second time these two teams will meet, the Chargers having lost a heartbreaker on a last second blocked field goal on Monday night in week one.

Before that first meeting, I did an extensive breakdown of the Broncos defense, which you can read here. Not much has changed since then as they've been fairly healthy on defense, besides a minor shoulder injury to linebacker Brandon Marshall which he's playing through. They'd seemingly fixed their problems from last year with stopping the run, but that seems like a potential weakness once again after getting shredded for 117 yards by Orleans Darkwa and the Giants putrid rushing attack last week.

Since I've already covered the Bronocs defense and the best way to beat them (a heavy dose of Hunter Henry), today I'll be focusing on the offense. Here's what the Chargers can expect:

OFFENSE: Trevor Siemian has regressed from his already shaky rookie season, and has been turning the ball over often this year. You may recall Siemian should've thrown a pick six very early in the first game against the Chargers but Casey Hayward dropped it. Last week Siemian wasn't so lucky, tossing two first half interceptions including a pick six.

They key to beating the Broncos is forcing Siemian to throw it as many times as possible. The Broncos like to be a run heavy team to set up their play action passes. Most of what they ask Siemian to do is either play action or quick release throws like short slants designed to maximize yards after catch. When their run game isn't working and Siemian is forced to make plays, they struggle mightily.

In the Broncos two losses, running back C.J. Anderson has averaged just 26.5 rushing yards. In their three wins, he's averaged 98. Since slowing down Anderson is essential, expect to see Gus Bradley load the box early and often and force Siemian to beat the Chargers with his arm. Opposing defenses have shown little respect for Siemian, regularly selling out to stop the run.

The Chargers have struggled to stop the run, but most of their tackling issues have come against bigger backs like Jay Ajayi and Marshawn Lynch. Anderson had a good but not great performance in week one, going for 81 yards on 20 carries. He started off hot but the Chargers responded well and started shutting him down as the game went on, so there's reason for optimisim.

Working in the defense's favor is the amount of injuries the Broncos offense has suddenly suffered. Emmanuel Sanders is the biggest name who will miss the game and his absence will be critical. He's absolutely crucial to the Broncos offense, and without him the Chargers and other teams will be able to focus their attention entirely on Demaryius Thomas.

The pass-rush should once again be able to get home and rattle Siemian. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were in his face constantly on opening night and they have an even better matchup this week. Starting right tackle Menelik Watson will miss the game, as will backup right tackle Donald Stephenson. They're turning to guard Allen Barbre to play right tackle, so it should be a matchup the Chargers look to exploit frequently. While Watson has been awful this season and was blown by constantly by Bosa and Ingram during the first matchup, he's still the best option they've got. The Chargers defensive line should feast and will need to.

Another Broncos receiver, Isaiah McKenzie, will also miss the game, leaving them dangerously thin out wide. The Chargers underrated secondary should hold their own, so how the game turns out will once again be up to the woeful linebacking group and their ability to stop the run.

Overall, the Chargers are once again getting very fortunate in the circumstances surrounding the game. Seemingly every game these past few weeks the opponent has been extremely banged up and the Chargers need to continue to capitalize. Stopping the run will be the key to take away the threat of the play action pass, and hopefully the front seven is up to the task. Denzel Perryman really can't return fast enough. If they can force Siemian to throw the ball at least 30 times, and get Henry involved while not being too predictable on offense, they should have a very good chance at a third victory.


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