Broncos ravaged by COVID-19 with 14 players on reserve list heading into Chargers contest

Bradley Chubb pregame. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Bradley Chubb pregame. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Just as COVID-19 ramps up across the world, it’s been hitting the NFL hard as well.

And after weeks of many different teams getting hit hard by the virus, it’s the Denver Broncos’ turn in Week 17.

The Broncos’ roster has been completely ravaged by the virus this week, as 14 players are currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including eight starters.

According to Ben Swanson and DenverBroncos.com, the first round of players to hit the list late last week included corner Bryce Callahan, tackle Bobbie Massie, wide receiver Tim Patrick and tackle Mike Purcell. The latest list on New Year’s Eve also put star Bradley Chubb and Jerry Jeudy on the sideline.

On top of all the COVID positive players, starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is out due to a concussion two weeks ago, meaning backup Drew Lock will start for a second straight game. Lock played well in Week 16 — one of his top-5 games — but he will need to do even more this week and with less.

Patrick and Jeudy are two of the team’s starting receivers, and Courtland Sutton is also listed as “questionable” with an illness. Denver’s passing attack has struggled all season, even with their best playmakers, and it seems like Lock may only have his tight ends Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam to rely on.

Add onto that, the Broncos’ beastly backs Melvin Gordon (hip) and Javonte Williams (knee) are both listed as “questionable” themselves.

Simply stated, the Broncos were already behind the eight ball when it came to playing the Chargers this week. Los Angeles is still in the thick of the playoff hunt, they’re a slightly better team overall and have a much better quarterback in Justin Herbert.

Denver’s offense has struggled all season long, and their 19.9 points per game is in the bottom-third of the league. Denver was able to out-play Los Angeles earlier in the season, but that was thanks to their dominant defense. With Callahan out, Ronald Darby and Kareem Jackson each listed as “questionable” to play, the Broncos’ secondary is really banged up. So to expect them to force Herbert into multiple turnovers again — like in Week 12 — seems unrealistic.

At 7-8, the Broncos season is hanging in the balance, but it’s an extremely long shot for them to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Chargers at 8-7, must beat Denver to stay in the hunt.

It all adds up to what could be a long day tomorrow for the orange and blue when the Broncos and Chargers kick off at 2:05 p.m. MST.

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