Denver Broncos at Chargers: Who has the edge?


When: Monday, 5:15 p.m.

Where: SoFi Stadium

TV/Radio: ESPN; 98.7 FM; 105.5 FM/94.3 FM (Spanish)

Line: Chargers by 4-1/2

Notable injury designations: Chargers: WR Keenan Allen (doubtful, hamstring), OL Trey Pipkins III (questionable, knee). Broncos: LB Jonathon Cooper (questionable, hamstring), RB Melvin Gordon (questionable, neck/ribs), LB Josey Jewell (out, knee), Damarri Mathias (questionable, knee), OL Quinn Meinerz (questionable, hamstring), OL Dalton Risner (questionable, back), TE Eric Saubert (questionable, thigh), DB Caden Sterns (out, hip), OL Billy Turner (questionable, knee).

What’s at stake: A victory for the Chargers keeps them within striking distance of the AFC West-leading Chiefs and in front of the Broncos and Raiders. Three of the Chargers’ first six games were against division rivals. They defeated the Raiders in Week 1 and lost to the Chiefs in Week 2. The Broncos need a victory to reach .500 and — just as important — halt the second-guessing that has dogged first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett since a loss in Week 1.

Who’s better: The Chargers’ running game broke out in a 30-28 victory in Week 5 over the Browns, with Austin Ekeler rushing for a career-high and an NFL season-high 173 yards. Justin Herbert’s seven-game streak of 300-yard passing games on the road ended last week when he passed for a modest 228 against the Browns. Herbert has thrown for 1,478 yards, third-most in the league, with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. The Broncos’ Russell Wilson hasn’t performed as expected, throwing for 1,254 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. So, advantage Chargers, right? The Chargers expect more — much more — from Wilson on Monday.

Matchup to watch: Wilson underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing right shoulder more than a week ago. He’s expected to play Monday, but there are questions about his effectiveness. The Chargers would do well to play as if Wilson were at full strength and performing as he did with the Seahawks. Containing him could prove difficult if he runs and passes as well as they’re accustomed to seeing. He has four touchdowns and one interception in two career starts against the Chargers.

Chargers win if: The Broncos haven’t scored many points, averaging 15 per game through five games. But they haven’t given up many either, averaging 16 per game. The Chargers aren’t likely to repeat their 238-yard rushing performance against the Browns, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try. Their ground game gave them an added advantage against the Browns and against the Houston Texans in a victory in Week 4. Look for the Chargers to try to move the ball on the ground again.

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Fantasy sleeper: As hard as it is to imagine, wide receiver Mike Williams has flown below the radar to start the season. He had a career-high 10 receptions last week against Cleveland for a season-best 134 yards. He has been a key target for Herbert while Allen has been sidelined for the past four games by a hamstring injury sustained in the season opener against Las Vegas.

Prediction: If the Chargers can establish their running game again and if Herbert continues his recent practice of picking apart defenses, this should be their third consecutive victory. The Broncos’ defense features a menacing figure in the form of linebacker Bradley Chubb, who has 5-1/2 sacks, tied for second in the NFL going into Week 6 games around the league. Chargers 24, Broncos 10.

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