The Denver Broncos host the Los Angeles Chargers in Denver for their Week 13 match-up. The Broncos previously beat the Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 5, 20-13, after a Denver defense suffocated the Chargers’ run game and forced Philip Rivers into two bad interceptions that both led to points. The Broncos hope to reproduce that effort and dominate their division rivals.
What will be different this week is that Joe Flacco will not be the starting quarterback, nor will Brandon Allen. Instead, Drew Lock is expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday.
What will be different with Drew Lock on the field than with Brandon Allen or even Joe Flacco? First, there will be some serious fan hype, as they have waited for three months to see the second-round pick take the field for a regular season game. Second, Lock has Joe Flacco-caliber arm strength with Brandon Allen’s mobility, and he brings his own flair to the game with big-play potential. Finally, the unknown and excitement of possibly watching the future of the franchise step onto the field and make his debut should be great.
The Broncos could be without NFL All-Pro Von Miller as he sat out of practice multiple times this week with a knee injury. Other questionable players on the injury report include Alexander Johnson, Shelby Harris, Josey Jewell, Duke Dawson, and Ja’Wuan James.
The Broncos are currently 3-8 after a really bad 20-3 loss to the Bills in Buffalo last weekend. The team has likely embraced a change of philosophy and are approaching that time of the year where the young guys see game action over long-time veterans. Ahmad Gooden was promoted from the practice squad to be part of the active game-day roster, and he looks to potentially make his 2019 debut as well.
If the Broncos are to win this game, they will have to do it on the back of the defense again. Expectations for Lock’s first start shouldn’t be extremely high, as he will be put in to execute a game plan and most likely be eased into action. Having high expectations for a second-round pick with only three weeks of practice wouldn’t necessarily be wise, as he needs to have a forgiving atmosphere where he can take steps and continue to develop.
Drew Lock has a load of confidence, talent, and experience (he was a four-year starter in college), but his nerves will likely be on full display in his first start. The Chargers have drastically under-performed this season, having contender expectations to start the season but currently sitting at 4-7. The talent on the roster doesn’t reflect the team’s record, and their pass rush will likely cause some problems for the Broncos offensive line.
The defense will need to generate turnovers for a chance to win this game, on top of shutting down the Chargers’ offense. If the Broncos want to win this game, they will need the defense to hold the Chargers below 17 points, and the offense will have to lean heavily on the run game to help Lock settle in.
Predicting how the Broncos’ offense will operate with yet another quarterback leading the team is hard, but the coaching staff will have a good game plan in place to attempt to sweep the season series against the Chargers. The coordinators, coaching staff, and players have iterated that they are confident the staff will have a game plan in place to give them the best chance at winning the game.
The Broncos are currently in a battle with the Cardinals, Falcons, Redskins, Giants, Bengals, and Dolphins for ever-so-important draft position. Winning games is good for morale, but not great in terms of draft picks. If the Broncos beat the Chargers, they will leapfrog them in the AFC standings while falling in the draft order.
The situation is a double-edged blade, as fans want the team to win games and remain competitive, but also want them to get the best draft pick possible for future success. The Broncos are favored by three points at home.
The Broncos will look to come out and snag a morale boost, beat a divisional opponent, and create a positive outcome to build off of. The team’s defense is still incredibly talented, and the offense will look to rebound from a terrible Week 11. The Broncos could come out and win this one.
Prediction: Broncos win 24-17