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Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers Prediction: Week 6 Wraps Up With a Key AFC West Clash on MNF

Broncos looking for answers on offense while the Chargers have some momentum after two straight wins.

If it’s not the league-wide roughing-the-passer calls, the biggest hot-button topic after five weeks of NFL play this year is the questionable offseason trade of Russell Wilson from Seattle and the struggles that have followed him in Denver.

After what we saw last Thursday in the 12-9 overtime loss to Indianapolis, it might be criminal to subject our collective professional football-loving world to sit through another Broncos game in prime time. Hell, their home fans started streaming out of the stadium BEFORE OVERTIME BEGAN. Aye-yaye-yaye. There was not even a single touchdown scored in that game. Now we get Wilson and Co. again on our TV sets? Is a replay of "Heidi" not available?

Related: NFL Predictions for Every Game in Week 6

Okay, I kid Denver fans, I kid. At least we’ll get the high-flying Chargers to face off with them making this an intriguing showdown of strength vs. strength. Justin Herbert has lived up to the billing, leading the Chargers to the second-best air attack in the NFL, averaging 291 yards per game. So despite the downtrodden Bronco fans and that offense, there is some intrigue to this one.

Monday Night Football: Denver (2-3) at Los Angeles (3-2)

Kickoff: Monday, Oct. 17 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Chargers -5.5
Tickets: As low as $46 on*

Three Things to Watch

1. The pressure falls on Russell Wilson… and Nathaniel Hackett
Much has been made of the mercurial Wilson and the offense that is suddenly running in molasses which he and his head coach are in charge of. The Broncos are 31st in the NFL with the ball, averaging a chintzy 15 points per game. And when they get down to the red zone? Egad. These poor boys are dead last in the league converting just 21 percent of their red zone visits into touchdowns. (By contrast, the Chargers are hitting paydirt on 53.4 percent of their red zone trips). Against the Colts, Wilson was 2-of-15 with two picks on throws of 10-plus yards. That is what a contract for $245 million was worth? But not all of this falls on him, especially given the reports that Wilson has been playing with a partially torn lat muscle in his throwing shoulder. Either way, a sizable amount of blame needs to be assigned to Hackett, the new head coach. The offensive play calls have been pedestrian at best and they rarely seem to have Wilson roll out to pass. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, the receivers have the most dropped passes in the NFL. Yep, bad all around here.

2. Worry not Bronco fans, you’ve got a lock-down defense
Okay, so the offense is flimsy. We get it. But the one thing that should help keep them in any game is that buckin’ Bronco defense. They’re ornery. They are giving up just 289 yards (third in the NFL) and 16.0 points per game (fourth in the NFL). They’ll have a tough assignment this week vs. the Chargers' offense. Keenan Allen is still out for the Chargers but look for them to target Mike Williams again, who has 120 and 134 yards in the last two games. The Broncos will have to move on without standout cornerback Ronald Darby, who was lost for the season in the Colts game, and rush specialist Randy Gregory who is out with a knee injury. In their stead look for cornerback Pat Surtain II to match up with Williams while Bradley Chubb has become a force in the pass rush. He registered 2.5 sacks and seven total tackles vs. the Colts. Also, Baron Browning, Gregory’s replacement, picked up 1.5 sacks and six QB hits on Matt Ryan.

3. Well lookee here, the Chargers have a running game
At the end of last week’s game at Cleveland, it was hard to overlook a very odd stat on the stat sheet. It showed the Chargers with 466 total yards, 238 of those on the ground, 228 through the air. Yes, the Chargers had a better running game than their passing game… for one week at least. They entered last week with the worst rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 64.5 yards per game and a boney-armed 2.7 yards per attempt. Also, the Chargers had gone 17 straight games without having a 100-yard rusher and had just two such efforts since 2020, the fewest in the NFL in that span. But this changed against the Browns when Austin Ekeler went crazy. Ekeler ended the game with 174 yards on 16 carries. Denver gives up 112.4 yards per game on the ground, but that balloons to 135.6 yards over the last three contests. So look for the Chargers to continue to aim for more balance on offense like they had last week.

Final Analysis

If you are the betting kind, the Broncos are 1-4 against the spread this season while the Chargers are the polar opposite at 4-1. The FPI says the Broncos have only a 24.8 percent chance to win here. The Chargers have been a little banged up already this season, but are starting to get some of the injured players back into the rotation. With those combinations of factors, this one is easy. In fact, the Chargers average 24.4 points per game compared to the aforementioned Broncos scoring 15 per game. Hmmm… that sounds like a perfect final score here.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Broncos 15

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.

*Price as of publication.