Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers vs. Broncos III

Our Scout.com experts, Mike Lombardo of SD Bolt Report and Michael John Schon of Broncos Update, break down Sunday's game between the Chargers and Broncos at Invesco Field in Denver. We'll finish this three-part series with some match-ups to watch, game scenarios and final predictions.

Broncos offensive match-up to watch:

With Javon Walker out and Travis Henry listed as doubtful, the Broncos are going to roll with rookie Selvin Young out of the backfield. How he matches up with the likes of Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips will be key. In order for Denver to have any success at all, they have to establish a running game and they'll be counting on the rookie.

Broncos defensive match-up to watch:

San Diego would be foolish not to try to exploit the Broncos' weakness against the run. LaDainian Tomlinson has lit it up in Denver the past two meetings and now he's going head to head with D.J. Williams, a transplant who's been moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker with the departure of Al Wilson. On both sides of the ball, the ground game will be the deciding factor.

Chargers offensive match-up to watch:

It is no secret that the Chargers will lean heavily on Tomlinson against the second-worst run defense in the NFL. If L.T. is to make the most of his many opportunities, he will need Lorenzo Neal to get to the second level and get a hat on D.J. Williams.

Williams has racked up a team-best 38 tackles. He has the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline and the ability to slip off most blocks. Neal will have to meet Williams in the hole and run him clear out of the play. If not, Williams will fight free and bring Tomlinson down from behind.

Chargers defensive match-up to watch:

Daniel Graham has modest receiving numbers this season, hauling in just eight catches for 68 yards. But the reason Denver targeted him in free agency is his ability as a two-way player. Graham is an excellent blocker and will be charged with preventing Merriman from getting a free run off the edge.

Already this season, Merriman has three sacks and five tackles for a loss, just two short of his career high. However, he has never recorded a sack at Invesco Field. Merriman recently became the second-fastest player in NFL history to hit 30 sacks; it will be up to Graham to prevent No. 56 from collecting No. 31.

The Broncos will win if:

They can keep the Chargers offense off the field. Time of possession is crucial - the less they see of Tomlinson, the better. Tomlinson isn't nearly as frightening on the bench as he is out of the backfield.

The Broncos will lose if:

Their biggest offensive threat turns out to be their place kicker. If Jay Cutler continues to struggle in the red zone, misread the defense and rely on Jason Elam chip shots - Denver drops to 2-3.

The Chargers will win if:

The defense pressures Cutler into bad decisions. If the Chargers can collect four or more sacks and keep Cutler from getting comfortable in the pocket, it will make life easier for a secondary that needs all the help it can get. Additionally, the pass rush needs to create turnovers by stripping Cutler and/or forcing him to throw interceptions. If the defense can provide the offense some short fields, it will go a long way towards securing the win.

The Chargers will lose if:

Philip Rivers continues to turn the ball over. Denver's secondary is loaded with playmakers; Champ Bailey, Dre' Bly and John Lynch each has more than 25 career interceptions. Rivers has thrown at least one interception in every game this season after throwing just nine all last year. If he can't snap that streak on Sunday, the Chargers will be fighting an uphill battle.

Schon's prediction:

Denver takes it in a low scoring sleeper.

Broncos 23, Chargers 21

Lombardo's prediction:

If the Chargers win, they are right back in the thick of the AFC West race. If not, the playoffs are almost out of the question. It is hard to imagine San Diego not rising to the occasion in such an important game.

Chargers 27, Broncos 23


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