By Dave Thomas
After four weeks of the NFL season, the Los Angeles Chargers looked like they were left for dead. Two weeks later, this team is alive and actually back in the AFC West Division race. My, how things can change rather quickly.
Looking to make it three straight wins, the Chargers will host the division rival Denver Broncos (3-2) this Sunday in Carson, California. With a win in that game, the Bolts could pull to within only two games back of front-running Kansas City (5-2). As of Friday, the game has been labeled a pick’em.
With the Chiefs dropping a dramatic 31-30 decision in Oakland to the Raiders on Thursday evening, the AFC West race got a whole lot more interesting.
That said, Los Angeles will look to close out the month of October the next two Sundays with big wins. But before going to New England next weekend to meet the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, the Chargers have more important business on their plates: The Broncos.
Denver, which dropped a 23-10 decision to the previously winless New York Giants at home last Sunday evening, beat Los Angeles 24-21 to open the season in the Mile High City.
So, can the Broncos sweep the season series and snuff out any Chargers’ hopes of playoff talk?
Los Angeles Looks To Keep Momentum Going Against League’s Top Defense
In order for Los Angeles to keep the momentum going, it will need to keep Denver’s defense off balance.
Coming into Sunday’s game, the Broncos sport the NFL’s top-rated defense, yielding a mere 261.8 total yards per game through five games. Denver has allowed 19.4 points per game to date.
Conversely, Los Angeles enters the game with the 18th-ranked defense in the league, allowing 338.5 yards per game. The Chargers to date have given up 21.8 ppg through six contests.
With a win over Denver, Los Angeles can also improve on its divisional head-to-head record. Right now, the Chargers sit at 1-2 in division games, having lost to the Broncos and Chiefs in September, with a win over the Raiders a weekend ago.
Chargers Head Into Sunday With Some Offensive Question Marks
As they prepare for the Broncos, the Chargers practiced Friday with some notable question marks on offense.
Starting running back Melvin Gordon was limited in practice as he battles a shoulder injury. Gordon has rushed for 356 yards on the season, but has accounted for seven touchdowns (three on the ground, four in the air) to date.
Meantime, starting wide receiver Keenan Allen did not practice on Friday as he, too, deals with a shoulder injury.
Allen, who has 33 receptions for 446 yards and a touchdown so far in 2017, saw limited practice time on Thursday.
If Allen is unable to go on Sunday, fans could see more balls being thrown the way of tight end Hunter Henry (17 catches, 228 yards, one TD) and wide receiver Tyrell Williams (20 receptions, 287 yards, one touchdown).
Los Angeles reported the following injury update as of Friday:
- (OLB) Jatavis Brown (Ankle) – Full Practice
- (RB) Branden Oliver (Hamstring) – Full Practice
- (C) Spencer Pulley (Shoulder) – Full Practice
- (WR) Keenan Allen (Shoulder) – Did Not Practice
- (OT) Joe Barksdale (Foot) – Did Not Practice
- (RB) Melvin Gordon (Shoulder) – Limited Practice
- (DT) Corey Liuget (Back) – Did Not Practice
- (S) Adrian Phillips (Neck/Concussion) – Full Practice