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Los Angeles Chargers

Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Broncos

The Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) close out the regular season on the road when they visit the Denver Broncos (6-9). Kickoff from Broncos Stadium at Mile High is set for 1:25pm PT.

On Offense for the Chargers

Philip Rivers aims to finish up one of the best regular seasons of his career on a high note against the Bolts’ division rivals. Rivers has completed 333 of 484 attempts (68.8 pct.) for 4,132 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 107.7 passer rating. Keenan Allen has been his top target, hauling in 93 passes for 1,132 yards and six touchdowns while Mike Williams leads the way with nine receiving TDs. On the ground, Melvin Gordon is back for his second-straight game after missing three weeks with a knee injury. The physical running back has toted the rock 165 times on the year for 843 yards (5.1 ypc) and 10 rushing touchdowns while snaring 47 passes for 466 yards and another four TDs.

On Offense for the Broncos

Case Keenum wraps up his first season as Denver’s quarterback on Sunday. Through 16 games, the veteran passer has completed 311 of 501 attempts (62.1 pct.) for 3,396 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 picks for an 82.1 passer rating. A pair of rookie wideouts have emerged as dangerous threats late in the season in second-round pick Courtland Sutton (35 receptions for 614 yards and three touchdowns) and fourth-round selection DaeSean Hamilton (19 receptions for 154 yards and one TD). Phillip Lindsay has been the feel-good story of the league, going from undrafted free agent to a Pro Bowler as a rookie. Unfortunately, he sustained a wrist injury last week, so Denver’s ground attack will be led by another rookie, Royce Freeman. The Broncos’ third round pick has impressed in his first season, posting 106 carries for 440 yards (4.2 ypc) and five touchdowns. 

On Defense for the Chargers

Derwin James looks to put the cherry on top of a Defensive Rookie of the Year worthy campaign as he makes his Mile High debut. James’ 103 tackles not only lead the team, but rank as the most by a rookie in team history. He also leads the team in passes defensed (15) and is tied for the lead in picks (three) with Desmond King. Meanwhile, Jatavis Brown could also top the century mark in tackles as he currently has 98, while Melvin Ingram (7.0 sacks), Isaac Rochell (5.0) and Joey Bosa (4.5) power the Bolts’ pass rush.

On Defense for the Broncos

The Broncos boast as fierce a one-two punch rushing the passer as any team in the NFL with veteran Von Miller and rookie sensation Bradley Chubb. Miller has a team-high 14.5 sacks while Chubb has 12.0. Todd Davis has made plays all over the field for Denver, leading the way with 108 tackles, while Justin Simmons has a team-high three picks.

The Broncos lead the all-time series 66-51-1 and are coming off a victory against the Chargers earlier in the season in Los Angeles. Denver came back to beat the Chargers on Nov. 18 at StubHub by the score of 23-22. The Broncos are 41-17-1 all-time against the Chargers at home. The Bolts opened the 2017 season at Denver and fell 24-21. The Broncos have won five straight against the Chargers at home with the last Bolts victory coming in a 27-20 battle on Dec. 12, 2012.

The Chargers rank 10th in total offense (379.1 yards per game), 12th in passing (261.9 ypg), 15th in rushing (117.1 ypg) and fifth in points (27.0). The Broncos rank 20th in total offense (348.8 ypg), 19th in passing (227.1 ypg), 11th in rushing (121.7 ypg) and 22nd in points (21.3).

Defensively, the Bolts rank eighth in total defense (331.3 ypg), seventh in passing (223.9 ypg), ninth in rushing (107.4 ypg) and eighth in points allowed (21.3). Denver ranks 23rd in total defense (371.1 ypg), 22nd in passing (251.3 ypg), 21st in rushing (119.8 ypg) and 12th in points allowed (21.7).

Milestones on the Horizon

Keenan Allen needs seven more catches to reach 100 for the season, which would mark the third 100-catch campaign in team history (and his second-straight).

Allen needs 10 more receptions to reach 103 on the year, breaking his own team record of 102 set last season.

Allen needs two touchdown catches to reach eight for the year, which would tie a single-season career high that he set as a rookie in 2013. It would also give him 30 career touchdown catches.

With a victory, the Chargers would reach 12-4 for just the third time in history (finished 12-4 in 2004). It would also mark the sixth season in team history with at least 12 wins.

Antonio Gates needs 64 receiving yards to reach 11,905 for his career and pass Hall of Fame WR Michael Irvin (11,904) for 27th on the all-time list.

Philip Rivers’ next start will be No. 208, tying QB Peyton Manning for the third-longest starts streak by a quarterback in NFL history. It would also tie with Hall of Fame LB Derrick Brooks for the eighth-longest streak since at least 1970.

Rivers needs 300-plus passing yards to record his 63rd career game with at least 300 yards, tying Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino for the fourth-most in history.

Rivers needs three touchdown passes to tie his team record and career high of 34 in a single season set in 2008.

Rivers can set a single-season career high for passer rating (previously 105.5 in 2008 and ‘13). It currently sits at 107.7.

Mike Williams needs two touchdown catches to reach 11 for the season, tying WR Lance Alworth (1963) for the 10th-most single-season touchdown receptions in team history.

Joey Bosa needs a sack to reach 28.5 for his career, which would pass DE Chris Mims (28.0) for the second-most by a Chargers defender in the first three seasons of his career.

Bosa needs 2.5 sacks to reach 30 for his career, becoming the 10th Charger to do so.

Melvin Ingram needs two sacks to reach 44.0 for his career to pass LB Shawne Merriman for No. 6 in team history.

Noteworthy vs. the Broncos

In the 2015 season finale at Denver, Tyrell Williams caught his first NFL pass for an 80-yard touchdown at Sports Authority Field. It tied for the 11th-longest catch in franchise history and it was the longest first-catch by any player in franchise history.

Throughout his career, Antonio Gates has faced the Broncos 29 times, logging 107 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns.

During the Chargers’ Oct. 23, 2014 game at Denver, Gates became the Chargers’ all-time leading receiver, surpassing Lance Alworth (9,854 yards). He passed Alworth on a 31-yard catch to the Broncos’ two-yard line on a 3rd-and-20 that set up a touchdown which tied the game, 7-7. He also had two second-half touchdowns in that game. Later, in the season’s second meeting on Dec. 14, 2014, Gates had his 10th touchdown catch of the season, joining New England’s Rob Gronkowski as the only tight ends in NFL history with four 10-touchdown seasons.

Nose tackle Brandon Mebane had three solo tackles in Seattle’s win over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Safety Adrian Phillips recorded his first NFL interception in the 2015 season finale off the Broncos’ Brock Osweiler. He picked off the Broncos again in the 2017 season opener.

Philip Rivers has faced the Broncos 27 times in his career. He has completed 516 of 835 (61.8 pct.) for 6,297 yards and 45 touchdowns. He has thrown for three or more touchdowns on four occasions against Denver.

On Oct. 23, 2014 at Denver, Rivers threw three touchdown passes to raise his career total to 241, passing Len Dawson (239) for 19th all-time. That same day, Rivers passed Johnny Unitas (2,830) for 25th all-time in career completions. On Dec. 14, 2014 against Denver, Rivers threw his 248th career touchdown pass, passing Boomer Esiason (247) for 17th all-time.

Chargers TE Virgil Green played for the Broncos from 2011-17.

G Michael Schofield III played for the Broncos from 2014-16.

Head Coach Anthony Lynn was an offensive and special teams assistant for the Broncos from 2000-02, following two stints as a running back on the Denver roster (1993, 1998-99).

Defensive Backs Coach Ron Milus served in the same role for Denver from 2000-02 and during the 2011-12 seasons.

Linebackers Coach Richard Smith coached special teams in Denver from 1993-96, as well as linebackers from 2011-14.

Assistant Special Teams Coach Keith Burns served in the same role from 2007-12 for the Broncos, following three stints on the active roster (1994-98, 2000-03, 2005-06).

Broncos Tight Ends Coach Geep Chryst was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers for two seasons (1999-00).

Defensive Backs Coach Greg Williams was on the defensive coaching staff for the Chargers from 2009-15.

CB Craig Mager played for the Chargers early in 2018, following three seasons on the Bolts roster (2015-17).

CBS – Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst)

KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)

Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)

Chargers radio broadcasts throughout the season will be able to be heard across ten radio stations from Southern California to Nevada. Fans can listen in English on KGB-FM and KLSD-AM (San Diego), KNWZ-AM (Palm Springs), KALZ-AM (Fresno), KBFP-AM (Bakersfield), KNWH-FM (Yucca Valley), KRLV-FM (Las Vegas), KRAK-AM (Victorville) and KATY-FM (San Bernardino). Spanish broadcasts can be heard on XHFG-FM (San Diego).

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