Week 1 Tale Of The Tape: Los Angeles Chargers At Denver Broncos

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 26: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers throws a pass during the preseason game between the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: Quarterback Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass in the first quarter during a Preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 26, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    Philip Rivers is a solid leader who has never waned in his enthusiasm despite playing for a team that has been to the playoffs just once in the last seven years. Rivers regularly plays at a fever pitch, and he can be seen gesturing and yelling at his teammates. While he can make all the throws and go on a hot streak, he threw 21 interceptions last year and that’s far too many.
    Trevor Siemian is smart, resourceful and has put in the work to deserve his spot on the roster. However, when it comes to NFL starting quarterbacks, he does not compare to most of his rivals in terms of talent and he is clearly a game manager. Siemian can make the short- and medium-range throws, but he is not going to stretch the defense. Head coach Vance Joseph wants him to avoid mistakes.
  • Offense
    Injuries hurt the Chargers badly last year, but if Keenan Allen can stay healthy on the outside, this unit can be quite dangerous in 2017. Allen has excellent route-running skills and wonderful hands. Tyrell Williams should be a decent No. 2 receiver, while TEs Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry should get the job done. Melvin Gordon is on the verge of becoming a star at the RB slot.
    The Broncos are dependent on running back C.J. Anderson to do a solid job of running the ball in order to take pressure off of Siemian. Anderson gets through the hole quickly and has good instincts, but he is coming off a knee injury. Demaryius Thomas (groin) and Emmanuel Sanders are stellar receivers who can make big plays. The Broncos are limited at the TE slot.
  • Defense
    While the Chargers have several flaws, they tend to play very hard on defense and leave it all on the field on an every-week basis. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and that change should help second-year DE Joey Bosa establish himself as a superstar after registering 10.5 sacks a year ago. Look for a big year from DE Melvin Ingram as well.
    The Broncos still have the makeup of a Super Bowl team because of their dominant defense. They ranked fourth in yards allowed and first in yards allowed per play, and they have the game’s most explosive player in pass rusher Von Miller. Brandon Marshall is a solid tackler from the linebacker position while Aqib Talib is a physical corner.
  • Special Teams
    There’s little to recommend about the Chargers’ special teams play, so this could be a problem area throughout the season. Erratic PK Josh Lambo is missing in favor of unproven Younghoe Koo, while punter Drew Kaser is somewhat inconsistent despite a powerful leg.
    The Broncos have issues on special teams as well, but they appear to be a better coverage team than their opponent. They are counting on rookie Isaiah McKenzie to give their return game a lift. PK Brandon McManus is quite reliable after making 29-of-34 FG attempts.
While many professional teams across the sporting landscape love to play the underdog card, few can do it with more legitimacy than the Chargers. Look for Philip Rivers to get off to a sharp start this year. But in Week 1 he faces Denver's stellar defense.