Last week here on my weekly KYO piece, I wrote how in order for the San Diego Chargers to win in Atlanta, they needed to stop Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. They stopped Freeman on fourth and one in overtime and the Bolts left the “Dirty South” with a win.
A great win for the Chargers as they look to gain some momentum on the season.
This week San Diego travels to Denver, to face the Broncos in the second meeting between these division rivals. Two weeks ago the Chargers defeated Denver in San Diego, but this game appears to be more difficult. Playing in the thin air of Colorado can always be an issue.
As we do every week on EVT, we will take a look at this week’s opponent strengths and weaknesses.
1. Von Miller
Ever since Miller was at Texas A&M, it was clear that we were looking at the next great defensive player, and Miller has been every bit as good as expected. After an off-season filled with contract negotiations, many thought that Miller was out of shape and that he was due for a down year after being named Super bowl MVP. That hasn’t been the case. So far, he has 7.5 sacks and has been a constant presence in the opponent’s backfield. So stopping Miller will be the Chargers first priority. He and Philip Rivers have quite the history. The Chargers quarterback now knows not to antagonize the rushing end after Miller has gotten the best of the Chargers’ offensive line in recent matchups.
2. Aqib Talib
When he’s not acting like a knucklehead or getting in trouble with law enforcement, there’s no doubt that Talib is one of the premier cover players in the league. One of the best performances so far this season came when Talib had a two interception day against Tampa Bay in week 3. He plays with outstanding technique and rarely gets in bad angles. Look for Talib to be matched up across Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams. Rivers will have to be patient when trying to locate the open receiver.
3. Gary Kubiak
I’ll be honest here, once upon a time I thought Kubiak was a below average head coach. But, after winning the Super Bowl with an over the hill Peyton Manning and starting 4-2 with a low-talent QB this season, there’s no question that Kubiak’s system works. His play calling always puts his team in a good position and the Chargers will surely see a bunch of different looks from the Broncos offense.
After starting the season turning heads, I think the league is catching up to him. Denver has great downfield threats. Unfortunately for them, Siemian hasn’t shown enough consistency to get them the ball. He gets rattled under pressure, so look for John Pagano to dial up a lot of blitz packages in order to force the young signal caller into turnovers. Joey Bosa will be after the Broncos QB all game long.
2. Run Defense
Denver has a fantastic defense, but to me their run defense is suspect. Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick just don’t intimidate anyone and I think that you can use their aggressiveness against them. Look for Ken Whisenhunt to run draws and counters in order to get the defense looking one way and running to the other. Melvin Gordon ran pretty effectively against them a couple of weeks ago and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him surpass 100 yards on the ground for the Bolts.
3. Running Backs
If C.J. Anderson hadn’t gotten injured on Monday, this would be a strength, but as it turns out, Anderson will miss a few weeks and Devontae Booker will fill in. To me this a clear downgrade. Anderson has proven to be a reliable back and he can carry the load. Booker had a good showing on Monday night against Houston, but the Chargers will be ready for him and he will be held under 65 yards, in my opinion.
There’s a popular saying in football that “It’s very hard to beat a team twice in the same season”. If the Chargers get to Seimian and rattle him early on, there’s a chance that can force turnovers and work with a good field position. On offense, they should be able to stay ahead of the chains, and thus out of obvious passing situations, in order to diminish Miller’s impact on the game. If they can succeed in these things, the Bolts will sweep the season series versus the World Champs.