The Denver Broncos are entering a do-or-die showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football this week.

Which matchups will determine if the Broncos can finally click this week, or if their season will be on life support at 2-4? Let’s take a look.

Damarri Mathis vs. Josh Palmer

In the cornerback room, it’s been Patrick Surtain II getting all the praise, and that’s understandable considering he’s presently emerging as the best cornerback in the sport, at just age 22. That said, Broncos Country shouldn’t sleep on what Ronald Darby was bringing to the table.

Only 10 cornerbacks, with at least 150 coverage snaps, have been targeted in coverage fewer times than Ronald Darby. Only two, in that same bunch, have allowed fewer receptions than Darby. Only four have allowed fewer yards than Ronald Darby. Only 10 have a higher rate of forced incompletions on their targets.

He was playing like an elite corner opposite of Surtain, and now, the Broncos will likely turn to a Day 3 rookie to play opposite of Surtain. How that rookie, Damarri Mathis, manages that responsibility, will have massive implications for whether or not Denver’s defense can maintain its dominance going forward this season.

This week, Mathis will get a relatively easy assignment in the form of Josh Palmer, who has tallied more than 30 receiving yards once all season, and a mere four times over the course of his entire career.

If even Palmer is able to feast on the newfound weak link in Denver’s secondary, many others will find similar banquets until Darby returns.

Advantage: Coin-flip

Russell Wilson vs. Chargers secondary

It’s safe to say the Russell Wilson experiment has yet to pan out so far for the Denver Broncos.

The first two-and-a-half games were fairly miserable, while the last game-and-a-half has been so especially painful it’s led many in Broncos Country to look to to find out how long their franchise is tied to the aging, fledgling quarterback.

However, for about three quarters between the third quarter of the San Francisco 49ers game, and the end of the Las Vegas Raiders game, it seemed like things might have been sorting themselves out.

For those three quarters, Wilson was 16-for-20 (80.0%), for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t gaudy, but they’re hyper-efficient, and that’s been the story of Russell Wilson’s career. He’s only passed for more than 300 yards in 22 of his 163 career games, but that’s ok when he’s producing at such a remarkable clip.

Since that three-quarter-long peak though, it’s been back to the gutter for quarterback play in Denver. Perhaps the shoulder injury he suffered against the Raiders really did rear its head in Week 5, and what we saw from Weeks 1-4, specifically Weeks 3 and 4, is closer to what Wilson can provide as he gets healthier and finds more comfort in this offense.

It’s obviously an optimistic outlook, but it’s not unreasonable either.

That said, it will suddenly begin to look like an unreasonable thought process if Wilson lays another egg on a primetime stage.

The Chargers’ pass defense can pose a solid challenge too, as they currently rank 12th in pass-defense DVOA and 14th in EPA allowed per dropback. They’re not a stingy squad, but they’re not porous either.

Can Wilson put Denver’s nightmares to rest, or will he make the darkness even thicker? We get to find out on Monday Night Football, in front of the nation.

Advantage: Coin-flip

Broncos Pass Rush vs. Chargers OL

The Chargers offensive line is already down superstar Rashawn Slater, and their other tackle, Trey Pipkins, is currently listed as questionable.

If Los Angeles trots out a tackle tandem of Storm Norton and Jamaree Salyer, the path should be clear for Baron Browning and Bradley Chubb to tee off on a suddenly shaky front.

Bradley Chubb ranks third in the NFL in Brandon Thorn’s True Sack Rating metric, while Baron Browning is coming off arguably the greatest single-game performance by a pass rusher in the history of Pro Football Focus, registering the highest pressure rate and pass-rush win rate they’ve ever recorded.

That sounds like a sizable mismatch, and one the Broncos will need to keep wunderkind Justin Herbert in check.

Advantage: Denver Broncos