Monday Night Football: Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers Spread, Preview & Prediction

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Monday Night Football

Denver Broncos (5-0) at San Diego Chargers (3-2)

  • Broncos-Chargers Date: Monday, October 19th
  • Broncos-Chargers Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM
  • Broncos-Chargers TV Network: ESPN
  • Broncos-Chargers Announcers: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Jon Gruden
  • Broncos-Chargers Point Spread: Chargers -3.5
  • Broncos-Chargers Over-Under: 44
  • Broncos-Chargers Spread Pick by Jerod: I was shocked when I first saw this line, but am not so shocked the more I think about it. The Chargers are coming off a bye, should have a healthier LaDainian Tomlinson at their disposal, and had to listen to their GM call them out this past week. The Broncos are coming off of a tough, emotional win over New England, and you have to think that this team is going to stumble on the road at some point. I think Philip Rivers outplays Kyle Orton and the Chargers hand the Broncos their first loss of the season, and by more than a field goal. Broncos-Chargers free pick: Chargers -3.5

Broncos-Chargers MNF Preview and Analysis

In August, ESPN’s “football expert,” John Clayton, who spends 365 days per year studying the sport, predicted the Denver Broncos would win “two or three games max” this season. To their credit, the other commentators on the panel disagreed, though most said five wins might be a stretch. Denver, of course, is undefeated through five weeks of football in 2009. The last four times Denver has started 5-0, they’ve made the super bowl or won the championship.


Kyle Orton, the reigning AFC offensive player of the week, leads this resurgent Denver squad that has become theNFL’s surprise team of the season. Coming off a bad loss in Pittsburgh, their week six opponent, the San Diego Chargers, are “quietly confident.” And perhaps they should be. After all, just ten months ago, the Broncos finished a December collapse at Qualcomm Stadium by ultimately blowing their three game lead with three to play with an embarrassing loss to San Diego in the season’s final week. In that 52-21 debacle, Denver’s defense allowed more points in that game than they have in five total games this season. Thanks to first year, 33 year-old head coach Josh McDaniels, the Broncos are obviously a different team now.

It wasn’t long ago though, that beat writers and NFL analysts were putting Josh McDaniels on the “hot-seat” for losing golden boy Jay Cutler. But the man who turned Matt Cassel, a perennial backup, into an almost pro-bowl caliber starting signal-caller, is at it again. Kyle Orton certainly showed potential last year in posting almost 3000 yards with an 18/12 touchdown to interception ratio, but his 97.4 QB rating this year and seven to one touchdown/interception ratio, indicates that he has finally realized that potential.

Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall, on the heels of an eight catch, two touchdown performance, has seemingly put his issue-riddled preseason behind him. His stellar play has played a significant role in the rapid maturation of Orton by providing Kyle with the type of receiving option the Bears never gave him. Even owner Pat Bowlen has warmed considerably to Marshall, asserting that “if he keeps playing the way he is, he’s going to get…a much better contract….that’s the way it goes.”

Eddie Royal finally came to life with a ten catch performance that featured many clutch catches for first downs. With this performance, he has probably earned the trust of McDaniels, and with it, an increased role in the offense. This is especially good news for Knowshon Moreno ,who looked explosive last week during an 124 total yard performance against a stingy Patriots defense. With the season-ending injury to the Chargers’ top run-stuffer, defensive tackle Jamal Williams, I’d expect Moreno to improve upon last week’s yard per carry average.

Returning to the defense, the Broncos have been among the league’s best. Having given up just 43 points through the first five games, they are off to a prolific start, thanks primarily to Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan’s new 3-4 scheme. Elvis Dumervil has paced the defense with eight sacks thus far, and I expect him to give lead-footed Phillip Rivers trouble all day long.

But is this a trap game for Denver, undefeated, overachieving, winning their last two games in the closing moments, and heading into their bye week? Considering the Broncos’ schedule will continue to be brutal for the next month or more, is the pressure actually on them, especially after last season?

The Chargers, coming off their own bye week, have a lot more riding on this game than the Broncos. A loss would put them at 2-3, three and a half games behind the Broncos for the division lead. Philip Rivers is not the problem with San Diego’s 2-2 start. In fact, he may be the only reason the Chargers have two wins at all.  Rivers has found ways to keep the Chargers in games despite poor pass protection, throwing the deep ball effectively.   The Chargers’ problems come from nearly everywhere else, however.

It is the defense that has been the chief concern, particularly the susceptibility against the run and the lack of playmaking. San Diego will probably bring a safety into the box to help offset the loss of Jamal Williams and force Kyle Orton to beat them through the air. But this will likely be meaningless if the Chargers defense isn’t able to force some turnovers. On the season, the Chargers defensive has only one turnover–an interception on a hail-mary pass–and they will need Shawn Merriman to return to his pre-steroid form if they expect to challenge the Broncos efficient offense

Offensively, Vincent Jackson has finally emerged as an elite receiver and seems to be in the midst of a breakout year. Despite the strength of the Broncos secondary, I think that they will have trouble keeping with Jackson and tight end Antonio Gates. Consequently, they will probably roll a linebacker or a safety onto Gates and attempt to double team Jackson. In other words, the Broncos will force the Chargers to beat them on the ground. A couple of years ago, this might have been a risky proposition, but with Ladainian Tomlinson seemingly a shell of his former self, andDarren Sproles proving to be more of an option in the receiving game, the Chargers may very well find themselves with their backs against the wall.

Broncos-Chargers Spread Pick

With the Chargers facing off against a potent offense and a defense with a superior secondary, their success in this game will most likely follow that of Tomlinson. Unfortunately, I don’t think LT has too many successful games left in him, and certainly not this week.

Denver will cover.


* – Kyle Orton photo credit: Mile High Report

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


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