CHARGERS VS. BRONCOS
MONDAY, 10:20 P.M. ET, SPORTS AUTHORITY FIELD AT MILE HIGH, DENVER
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Rex Ryan About the Chargers: It’s a new start for the Chargers with a new head coach, Anthony
Lynn, and a new city. But there is a lot of the old, highlighted by QB Philip Rivers and TE
Antonio Gates, who have been teammates for a 13 seasons. Gates won’t be the only target for Rivers, however. WR Tyrell Williams caught 69 passes for 1,059 yards last season, and WR Keenan Allen is healthy for now after playing a total of nine games the last two seasons. Hunter Henry is an emerging talent at tight end along with RB Melvin Gordon. New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has changed the scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and he expects DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to get after the quarterback consistently.
About the Broncos: The focus all summer was on the quarterback competition between
Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Siemian won it, thanks to his consistency, and Lynch injured his shoulder in the third preseason game and will be out for several weeks. RB
C.J. Anderson is back from a knee injury that cost him nine games in 2016. RB Devontae
Booker (wrist) won’t be available to start the season, but former Kansas City Chief Jamaal
Charles will be. How much and how he is used will be intriguing to see as the season develops. The offensive line added RG Ron Leary, and the season could start with Max Garcia and Allen Barbre alternating series at left guard. The biggest change on defense was the departure of coordinator Wade Phillips. Former defensive backs coach Joe Woods takes over a unit led by OLB Von Miller (131⁄ sacks) and a deep secondary. 2
Matchup to watch: Miller vs. Chargers
RT Joe Barksdale or Chris Hairston.
Barksdale has been sidelined by a foot injury in the preseason, and his status for the opener is unknown. Either one will have his hands full with Miller, who thinks he could reach 30 sacks in a season. Player to watch: Broncos LT Garett
Bolles. The Broncos say they will live and die with the first-round pick’s inexperience and aggressive approach, which often leads to
penalties. He was flagged three times for holding in one preseason game, and officials surely will be watching him closely. Number crunching: .661. Denver’s winning percentage in season openers in the franchise’s 57-year history. The Broncos’ 3719-1 record is tied with Dallas for the best percentage among all NFL teams, and they have won five consecutive openers. The Chargers’ .561 percentage (32-25) in season debuts is tied for eighth best in the NFL. KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Run, Melvin, run: Rivers loves to put the ball in the air, but Lynn’s coaching history has been leading running backs. A productive Gordon and offensive balance should help Rivers limit his interceptions.
2. Manning the middle: With Chargers MLB Denzel Perryman (ankle) out, Korey Toomer and/or Nick Dzubnar will be counted on to be stout in the middle of the defense. The Broncos will try to exploit it.
3. Siemian says: The confident quarterback thinks he’s ready to take his game up a notch from a decent 2016, when he completed just 59.5% of his passes. He has talent around him with WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
4. Line stability: The Broncos have a rookie left tackle (Bolles), a job share at left guard (Garcia/Barbre) and a right tackle (free agent Menelik Watson) who was injured a lot while playing for the Oakland Raiders. C
Matt Paradis got a late start in camp after offseason hip surgery.
Von Miller has averaged 13 sacks per season over the past three years.