Posted Fri Oct 16th by Monty
For those who want a more in-depth look at the numbers that drive the NFL, we strongly recommend Football Outsiders. Trends are starting to take shape, so we’ll be looking at DVOA rankings to gain some perspective on the Broncos‘ upcoming opponent.
San Diego Chargers
Passing Offense: 31.1% (11th)
Rushing Offense: -17.1% (25th)
Overall: 5.2% (16th)
Analysis: The Chargers certainly have the ability to be explosive at times, but the numbers suggest they’re not consistent (in fact, the Broncos outrank them significantly in all offensive DVOA categories). Each of their games in 2009 have been a microcosm of their past few seasons: a slow start, finding themselves in a deep hole, followed by a . It also explains why the Chargers have rushed for fewer yards than other team in the league. As part of their bye week break, expect the Chargers to come out throwing Monday. An early lead would go a long way to heal what ails them.
Passing Defense: 24.8% (22nd)
Rushing Defense: 22.1% (32nd)
Overall: 23.3% (29th)
Analysis: Do any of those numbers scare you? The Chargers currently have the least efficient defense in the AFC West by DVOA — less than the Chiefs, less than the Raiders, and far worse than the fourth-ranked Broncos. The injury to Jamal Williams has been devastating, and former Pro Bowlers Antonio Cromartie and Shawne Merriman have been invisible.
That being said, the Chargers hope to enter this game healthy, and hope to remove the “soft”-ness their GM has plagued them since before the bye. Merriman has been practicing all week, a good sign after he’s been limited often in 2009, and San Diego hopes he can return to his playmaking form. They’re shaking things up, releasing starting safety Clinton Hart and adding DT Ian Johnson.
Those moves need to pay them immediate dividends, as the Broncos’ running attack will be boosted by the return of Correll Buckhalter. This could prove problematic for the Chargers defense, as he has been one of the NFL’s best rushers in 2009 (averaging over seven yards per carry). If the Chargers can limit Buckhalter, it will mark a remarkable turnaround in a short time span and go a long way toward them winning this game.
Special Teams: 5.0% (6th)
Analysis: The Broncos’ special teams has been a major disappointment, while the Chargers’ unit has been one of the team’s bright spots. Darren Sproles is always dangerous.
Team Overall: -13.1% (23rd)
Analysis: The Broncos outrank the Chargers in every category except Special Teams, but the Chargers have had the Broncos’ number the past several seasons, winning 5 of 6 by an average of 25.0 points. This is the Broncos’ annual toughest game of the year. The stats are worth the look, but for this game, you can throw a lot of them out the window. The Chargers are going to “bring it,” and the Broncos need to match.