Chargers vs. Broncos matchups, how to watch and score prediction

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Cleveland.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler breaks off a gain against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 9, 2022. Ekeler has scored five touchdowns over the last two games.
(Kirk Irwin / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (3-2) and Denver Broncos (2-3) match up heading into their game at 5:15 p.m. PDT game on Monday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be shown on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.


When Chargers have the ball

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert passes against the Denver Broncos during a game in January last season.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Austin Ekeler is coming off a career-best 173 yards rushing at Cleveland. He also has scored five touchdowns over the last two games. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he sensed early against the Browns that Ekeler was about the break out. “Man, this kid is on fire and ready to play today,” Lombardi said he recalled thinking. “I’m sure he was feeling it.” Denver is middle of the pack against the run, ranking 15th overall. But the Broncos are tied for fourth in points allowed, surrendering 16 per game, and — attention, Justin Herbert — have the NFL’s No. 1 defense against the pass. The Chargers’ Week 5 victory in Cleveland included a late, failed fourth-down attempt. The Chargers are five for 11 on fourth down for the season, those 11 tries tied with Jacksonville for the most in the AFC entering Week 6. Lombardi took the blame for the failure against the Browns, saying he instructed Herbert specifically to throw to Mike Williams, a pass the Browns defended well. “There is a lot of discussion about analytics, and I think they are important and it’s smart to use them,” Lombardi said, speaking of approaching fourth downs in general. “We’ve all doubled down on 11 when the dealer is showing a six [in blackjack] and lost a hand. But it’s still the right thing to do.”


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When Broncos have the ball

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson gestures during a game.
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has struggled to make an impact for his new team.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Denver has scored one touchdown over its last six quarters as quarterback Russell Wilson continues to transition after starting for a decade in Seattle. His completion percentage (59.4) and touchdown percentage (2.4) are career lows and his yards per attempt (7.4) are his second worst. Wilson also is on pace to be sacked 54 times, which would be his highest season total. The Chargers have been uneven defensively, giving up an average of 27.2 points, which ranks 30th. They had four sacks against Houston in the first game without edge rusher Joey Bosa, who is out because of a groin injury. But they failed to sack Cleveland’s Jacoby Brissett and hit him only three times in Week 5 as the Browns rolled up 213 yards on the ground. Defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said trying to limit big plays will continue to be a key. “We know that is something that Russell has done in the past...” Hill said. “So we have to make sure that we’re doing a good job.” The Broncos feature former Chargers back Melvin Gordon, who was a first-round draft pick in 2015. In four career games against the Chargers, Gordon has 231 yards on 51 carries and 55 yards on 10 catches. Something to watch for: Gordon never has scored a touchdown against the Chargers.


When they kick

Dustin Hopkins returns after missing the game in Cleveland because of a quadriceps injury. He remained on the team’s injury report until Saturday. Denver’s Brandon McManus is ninth among active kickers with 206 career field goals.



Jeff Miller’s prediction

The availability of center Corey Linsley (illness) could significantly impact this game. On Sunday, the Chargers announced he was questionable. If Linsley doesn’t play, this forecast could be 100% wrong.