Justin Simmons calls it a must win.

Of course, he’s right. He hasn’t played since Week 1, but Simmons understands the urgency of beating the Chargers on the road on Monday Football. The numbers don’t lie, as Mile High Sports Broncos scribe Zach Segars wrote last week, since 1990, only 9.3% of teams that opened the season 2-4 have made the playoffs. In other words, win and keep the hope; lose and go home (in January).

Then again, who are we kidding? In the words of the great Jim Mora, “Playoffs!? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kiddin’ me? Playoffs?”

Everyone knows Mora’s famous rant. But what’s often forgotten is the line he opened with: “Do not blame that game on the defense.”

With Simmons or without him, the Broncos woes this season cannot be blamed on the defense, a unit that ranks in the NFL’s Top 4 in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game and passing yards per game (where they rank 1st). Hypothetically, the Broncos could win on Monday Night 11-10, just as they did against the 49ers in Week 3, and their playoff hopes can stay mathematically intact. But if they win with defense and defense only, the win is just a win.

Ironically, they say “a win is a win is a win.” But would a W on the backs of the defense – with no help from the Broncos offense – really be a win?

Only in the standings.

You hate to be greedy, but the Broncos need to win this one with offense – not “just win” (baby). If the offense doesn’t click one of these days – win or lose – it feels like the Broncos might win an occasional battle but have no shot at winning the war. As good as the defense has been, an offense that has scored just six touchdowns and produces just 14.6 points per game might as well not be on the field.

Thus far, the Denver Broncos have scored the fewest points by a team in a season, with just 75 points, since 1970.

As Denver saw in 2016, a team that asks its defense to do it all will eventually fail. And even the 2016 Broncos scored at a clip of 20.8 points per game.

Besides, this is bigger than just one game. Monday night’s offensive effort could determine the future of the franchise – or at least be a key step in determining that future.

A few weeks ago, Broncos fans were more than willing to pin the team’s paltry offense on newly hired head coach Nathaniel Hackett. After all, Hackett was full of mysterious decisions, clock management blunders and red zone ineptitude. But now, with Hackett still looking overwhelmed by the job of head coach, there’s a new, more-troublesome question gaining momentum: Was Russell Wilson a bad signing?

It’s a depressing thought, as the much-ballyhooed Wilson signed a long-term, quarter-billion-dollar contract before the season began, but the notion has definitely been debated of late. Wilson has produced the worst statistics of his career, looking more like a bust than a franchise quarterback capable of playing until he’s 45.

While not ideal, the Hackett problem – in theory – is temporary. Coaches are fired and hired all the time. But Wilson represents a commitment. If he’s not the player everyone tied to the Broncos thought he would be, his mega contract could set Denver back for years and perhaps further down than the the Vance Joseph-Vic Fangio Era.

“At the end of the day, we’ve been hurting ourselves on first and second down,” Wilson told the press this week. “We have to be better on third downs and third and longs.”

First down.

Second down.

Third down.

Yep. That pretty much covers it. Does that mean the Broncos and punter Corliss Waitman are good to go on fourth? That’s not encouraging.

Wilson added: “When it comes to the red zone, it comes down to making plays. We have to make them, and we have to find ways to make them with whoever is running it, throwing it or catching it. I think that we’ve had some really good moments. Now, it’s time to keep learning each other, keep developing and have a great game this week. That’s really all that matters.”

He’s right there, too. Points are all that really matter – at least at the moment.

“The offense is going through some adversity,” Hackett said following the Broncos 12-9 loss to the Colts on Thursday Night Football 10 days ago, “I believe that they’ll get through this.”

He, too, is right. To say Broncos offense is “going through adversity” might be the understatement of all understatements. Hackett’s offense has been harder to watch than anything Denver witnessed under Joseph or Fangio – or behind Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco, Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater for that matter.

With an offensive minded head coach and the offseason’s biggest acquisition, they’d better get through this.

The good news is that the Chargers offer an opportunity to do so. As good as Denver’s defense has been, the Chargers defense has been almost the opposite – they’ve been bad, bad, bad. The Chargers give up 27.2 points per game (third-worst in the NFL) and 368.2 yards per game (eighth-worst). In other words, the Chargers are typically giving up just about double of what the Broncos are typically producing.

If given the choice, would you rather see the Broncos win 12-9, or lose 35-33?

Sure, a win is a win is a win.

But points represent real hope.

Teams that begin the season 2-4 make the playoffs at a rate of 9.3%.

Teams that rank dead last in points scored simply don’t make the playoffs at all.

Must win?

Let’s start with must score.