Week 12 X-Factors: Chargers Vs. Broncos
I was very frustrated when I was writing my article for the preview of the Steelers game last week. At the time, the Los Angeles Chargers were struggling and had lost 3 of their previous 4 games. I was hoping to see a change within the team and to beat up on an injured Steelers team. While they dominated most of the game, and almost lost it in the end, I am very relieved they were able to pull it out in the end.
There is nothing better than knowing that your team has a franchise quarterback for a very long time. Justin Herbert is just absolutely incredible and willed his team to victory with nearly 500 yards of total offense. While there are plenty of deficiencies with this team, Herbert is able to alleviate a lot of them.
The Chargers are heading on the road to their division rival the Denver Broncos. Every year I am nervous for both Chiefs games, and whenever they have to travel to Denver. Playing in Denver is very difficult due to the elevation and it gets loud there. This game will be a good one to determine where this team is at and can be a huge boost to be 3-0 in the division.
X-factor 1: Turnover battle
I will always say that one of the most essential aspects to winning a game is winning the turnover battle. It’s no secret that the Chargers have a great offense and a not-so-great defense. What many of their games have come down to is who has the ball last or who had more possessions during the game. The only reason why the Steelers were able to get back into the game last week is because of a blocked punt and a tipped ball interception that gave the Steelers excellent field position and a ton of momentum.
That’s a huge thing as well, momentum is key in the NFL and especially in a divisional game like this with how close their games typically are. Every possession is crucial. The Chargers and Broncos are both very close with their turnover differential with the Chargers at +1 and the Broncos at an even 0.
An obvious target is Melvin Gordon who has his history with fumbles, as most Chargers fans know, and he has put the ball on the field two separate times this season. Aside from how great a fumble would be, it would be much sweeter for it to be from Gordon.
X-factor 2: Get Herbert In Rhythm
Justin Herbert has had mostly a spectacular season, but there have been his share of highs and lows throughout it. I know people have their opinions on Joe Lombardi but if there is something that I have found him to be exceptional at it’s his opening drives are excellent. He typically has a very good game plan that can help get Herbert in rhythm. The issue at times lies when things get a bit off script and they have to adapt on the fly. Herbert can be great in this scenario if he has gotten in a solid rhythm beforehand.
As we saw from Sunday night, it didn’t matter what the Steelers threw at him, he was in such a zone that it didn’t matter and he dominated throughout the entire game. I love what they did this past game to get him in rhythm, they had him run. Herbert seemed much more decisive and willing to tuck it and run the ball.
Herbert was on the ”Pat Mcafee Show” on Tuesday this week and he was asked about this and mainly about if it is a difficult decision to see an open lane but still try to keep his eyes down the field. I loved Herbert’s answer, essentially he said while he always is looking to make a play with his receivers if he sees that he is able to pick up quite a bit and get a first down, he isn’t going to hesitate anymore. I think that is going to provide so many avenues for him to help him get going in the beginning and make teams have to defend him a different way. It could unlock his true potential as a star in the NFL.
X-factor 3: Get Off The Field
I’ve coached a bit in my life, and no matter the sport, something I believe very strongly in is momentum, getting off to a quick start, and taking advantage of every opportunity that you can. The Chargers are not doing a good job at taking advantage of their opportunities. It was why they lost to the Vikings letting them convert very long 3rd downs and just not being able to get off the field. The Chargers also did not take advantage of many opportunities against the Steelers, they went 8-15 on 3rd down and that is way too high of a success rate to expect to win every week.
As I wrote last week, the Chargers have struggled with time of possession, and as I discussed earlier, it’s so important to get as many possessions as you can in the NFL. In this game, the Chargers are definitely in the advantage if more possessions occur in this game. They have a more dynamic offense and can score quickly. The Broncos are going to hope to chew the clock and convert a lot of 3rd downs and try to keep the best player in this game, Hebert, off the field. Something I could see them doing is being a bit more aggressive on earlier downs to be able to put the Broncos in more difficult situations. The defense absolutely needs to step up this game if the Chargers are going to win.
This game is crucial. The difference in 7-4 and 6-5 is big, especially when the Chiefs are on a bye sitting at 7-4. Playing in Denver is never easy, but this team is different and I know they can rise to the occasion. My predictions are Donald Parham has his coming-out party and has a career day and for Derwin James to finally get the interception he’s been so close to getting recently.
Chargers 31 Broncos 23