James Campbell (@JamesC_MHH) 3-3: Expect a response from the Denver Broncos after last week’s brutal melt-down, but ultimately the Los Angeles Chargers have a better quarterback in Justin Herbert, while some of their key pieces are returning. The Chargers have a ferocious pass rush which will rattle Drew Lock, while their secondary will present a stern test for the beleaguered QB, although there are wins to be had against the middle of the defense. In this game, it is important that the Broncos involve Jerry Jeudy in a quick-hitting pass game and manufacture some touches for him, so that he could utilize his yards-after-catch ability. Melvin Gordon will need to step up if the Broncos are to have a chance.
Pick: Chargers 31, Broncos 6
Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) 5-1: It doesn’t get any easier this week for the Broncos, hosting the Chargers and the red-hot rookie Herbert. With the Chargers’ high-flying attack and the Broncos’ inability to avoid turning the football over, this could get ugly.
Pick: Chargers 28, Broncos 17
Keith Cummings (@KeithC_NFL) 3-3: This is a must-win for Denver. That is the absolute bottom line as Herbert is getting the hype while Lock really needs to get his head in the game. The key to this one is Vic Fangio vs. Herbert and in that head-to-head matchup, the advantage goes to Denver. Lock needs to take a breath and play with more poise and brains. All said, that happens on Sunday and the Broncos’ running attack carries the load. Sprinkle in a defensive score.
Pick: Broncos 21, Chargers 17
Carl Dumler (@CarlDumlerMHH) 5-1: I’ve gone back and forth on this game in large part because I have no clue how the Broncos, with such a young roster, will respond to the adversity of last week. As the week has gone on, though, I feel like this will be a bounce-back game for the Broncos with the offense having their best game of the season. Lock throws three touchdowns and the running game adds another.
Pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 20
Thomas Hall (@ThomasHallNFL) 2-4: Even with all the major injuries the Broncos have suffered this season, they can still win games against average opponents. Even with the buzz surrounding Herbert, the Chargers are an average to below-average team. If Lock can shake off his last performance, which I believe he will, the Broncos can put points on the board against a defense that has given up an average of 26 points per game. The Broncos’ defense will hold the Chargers in check in part, due to Justin Simmons’ two takeaways on the day as Denver secures the team’s third victory of the season.
Pick: Broncos 24, Chargers 13
Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen) 4-2: I get all the hype surrounding Herbert but Lock and company are going to take a bite out of all that QB envy in Broncos Country and give the fans back some perspective and hope. The Chargers’ defense has been a sieve when it comes to giving up points. If Lock can get back to basics with a focus on his fundamentals and taking what the defense gives him, the Broncos will move the ball and put some points on the board. Even if Phillip Lindsay is unable to make it out of concussion protocol, this is Melvin Gordon’s revenge game against his former team and he’ll play his best game as a Bronco, giving the offense a reliable ground attack. Herbert, for all his promise, will encounter some looks and coverages he’s heretofore not seen as Fangio confounds the rookie, putting a knot in his tail. The Broncos feast with a few sacks in bunches and three takeaways.
Pick: Broncos 23, Chargers 17
Trevor Judge (@TrevorJudge) 4-2: Lock vs. Herbert. Two guys John Elway thought very highly of before last year’s draft — which should be one of the underlying storylines of this game in Broncos Country. Heading into this week, Herbert has been on fire. He looks to have all of the tools to be a successful NFL QB thus far. Lock, on the other hand, has struggled since returning from injury. Fortunately, the Broncos are catching a break facing an injury-riddled Chargers defense. If Lock can limit mistakes and stop forcing deep throws I like his chances of bouncing back. Look for the Broncos to pull out a close one.
Pick: Broncos 23, Chargers 20
Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) 3-3: This game is why #LetThemHate exists. In the face of staunch criticism from inside and outside the fan base, Lock will respond with a 250-yard, two-touchdown effort as Denver’s defense locks down Herbert en route to a much-needed victory. And predictably, some of those who jumped off the Lock bandwagon will be scrambling to get back on.
Pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 13
Nick Kendell (@NickKendellMHH) 3-3: The L.A. Justin Herberts are coming to town riding their rookie phenom quarterback and current leader for Rookie of the Year to a victory last week. This is a measuring-stick game for Lock as a quarterback and the Broncos in the division. Denver’s defense, if it was getting any sort of help from the offense or special teams, would be getting more notoriety by now but alas the other phases of the game are letting it down (different year, same story). Denver’s defense will need another elite game with the offense protecting the ball and the special teams not giving up big plays. This Chargers’ offense is explosive with Herbert but the offensive line is meh and the defense is injured. Denver can do enough to win.
Pick: Broncos 23, Chargers 21
Bob Morris (@BobMorrisSports) 4-2: The Chargers are a better team this year because they have a better quarterback. Philip Rivers was in decline, while Herbert is showing promise — people may look at his win-loss record and think otherwise, but he is playing well for a rookie. The Chargers also have a better defense last year, but their Achilles heel is special teams. The Broncos have the defense that should be able to contain Herbert and company, but the offense has to get drives finished and avoid turnovers, and special teams can’t give up long returns. Hopefully, Lindsay will be cleared to play, so the Broncos can run the two-headed rushing attack they want. Assuming Lindsay is good to go, the Broncos may have enough to outlast the Chargers in a game decided in the final minutes.
Pick: Broncos 23, Chargers 20
Luke Patterson (@LukePattersonLP) 4-2: The Broncos’ defense is once again the crutch for a bad football team that features terrible special teams and a bad offense. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s stubborn three-wide receiver sets have made this offense inept and predictable. Herbert looks human against Fangio’s defense, but Denver’s offense can’t get out of its own way. The wheels come off.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 20
Lance Sanderson (@SandersonMHH) 5-1: The problem with this game is that you can’t trust either offense enough to go out and put up a ton of points, but that is for two completely separate reasons. Lock and the Broncos can’t get seemingly anything going, and are averaging 16 points per game in 2020 with Lock under center. Herbert has looked the part, but do you trust in his ability against the most complex coverage scheme he’s seen to date? The first team to score 17 points wins this one, and despite a rookie QB going against Fangio, I think that’s the Chargers. I still can’t trust the Broncos offense.
Pick: Chargers 20, Broncos 13
Erick Trickel (@ErickTrickel) 3-3: This game is going to come down to which quarterback can do more. While Lock and the Broncos bounce back for a solid day putting up 23 points, they make a couple of costly mistakes in turning the ball over. We see a better Lock, but still full of issues that need to be fixed. Meanwhile, Herbert continues to look like the real deal and leads the Chargers off the hands of Keenan Allen. Denver’s defense plays admirably and keeps it close but being down 17-16, two turnovers by the Broncos lead to 14 points and a garbage-time touchdown by Lock and company narrows the margin.
Pick: Chargers 31, Broncos 23
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