The well-rested 5-5 Denver Broncos return from their bye week to face the 6-5 Los Angeles Chargers. With the AFC West race so neck-and-neck, this game has severe ramifications for both teams in their fight for a playoff spot.

The Broncos hope to redeem themselves after an embarrassing loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles and then a week of rest. They go into their matchup with the Chargers as the 2.5 point underdogs following LA’s shootout win over Pittsburgh last Sunday night.

Here’s what the Broncos can expect to face from the Chargers in Week 12.

Chargers on Offense

The Chargers currently rank as the eighth overall offense and are facing the Broncos’ ninth overall defense. 

Justin Herbert has thrown for the seventh-most passing yards (2,927) and the fifth-most touchdowns (22) in the NFL. On top of that, he ranks eighth in rushing yards by quarterbacks (207). 

The Broncos struggled to shut down Hurts two weeks ago, another mobile QB. Their run defense has been struggling as of late, and if they don’t shut down Herbert in both facets, they will be in big trouble.  

Chargers running back and Colorado native Austin Ekeler is on pace to have his most productive season to date. He had four touchdowns last week against the Steelers, two through the air and two on the ground. The Chargers will most likely look to him again as the focal point of their offense.  

Herbert’s favorite target to throw to is slot receiver Keenan Allen. He currently has the ninth-most receiving yards in the NFL (810). With cornerback Bryce Callahan on the Injured Reserved list, Kyle Fuller is filling in on that spot. Fuller has allowed big plays all season, so expect Allen to win a lot of people their fantasy football matchups this week.

On the pass rush side of things, the Broncos have been without Bradley Chubb since Week 2. According to head coach Vic Fangio, there is a 50-50 chance of returning this week. That would be a massive help for them up front.

Chargers on Defense

The Chargers’ defense is middle of the pack at No. 17, while the Broncos’ offense places similarly at No. 20. 

After missing two games due to an ankle injury, Garett Bolles has been added to the Covid reserve list and will most likely be out for a third game.  

Denver’s running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon are averaging 4.4 yards and 5.0 yards per carry respectively, which are dominant numbers. Los Angeles’ most significant weak point is their running defense, which is ranked last in the NFL. If Pat Shurmur wants to win this game, he’ll scheme a run-heavy attack.

Linebacker Joey Bosa might make things very difficult for Teddy Bridgewater, who tends to hold onto the ball for far too long. Bosa has racked up 6.5 sacks, 14 QB hits and three forced fumbles this year; Teddy needs to make quick decisions in this game.

He has also struggled immensely in converting touchdowns in the red zone, with the Broncos averaging less than two touchdowns a game. However, the Chargers red zone defense has been even less stellar, allowing teams to score 62.5% of the time. 

During the bye week, the Broncos re-signed wide receivers Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton to long-term extensions. Both guys will be inspired to show people why they deserved the giant pay days. The Chargers’ pass offense has been strong, so it’ll present a challenge.

Score Prediction: Broncos 20 – Chargers 27