NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 17 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 34, Denver Broncos 13

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

AFC West matchups often come down to the wire between two good, closely matched teams, but that’s not how this one went.

The Los Angeles Chargers ran away against the Denver Broncos at home, winning 34-13 in a game that was never really in doubt. The win eliminates Denver from the playoff picture and keeps the Chargers alive.

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Los Angeles Chargers

Quarterback

It wasn’t the most dominant outing we have seen from Justin Herbert in the NFL, but this was an efficient and effective performance that was always in control.

Herbert completed 71% of his passes but had an adjusted completion rate (a PFF metric that adjusts for drops, throwaways, spikes, etc.) of 85.7%. Just 32.3% of his pass attempts traveled past the sticks, and his numbers are boosted by a late bomb to wide receiver Mike Williams.

Running back

Justin Jackson‘s recent play has been a pleasant development for the Chargers. He carried the ball 12 times against Denver for 41 yards, gaining 17 of them after contact. As a receiver, he caught all three passes sent his way for 20 yards and two more first downs.

Austin Ekeler handled 17 carries for 59 yards, 43 of which came after contact.

Wide Receivers/Tight ends

Keenan Allen led the Chargers with nine targets and four catches, but those targets yielded just 44 yards and a score.

Mike Williams finished with the team lead in yards thanks to a late bomb, one of three catches from him in the game. Josh Palmer saw four targets and dropped a touchdown on one of them, which likely means he'll secure the lowest receiving grade of the group.

Routes Run Targets Receptions YPRR
Mike Williams 30 3 3 2.10
Keenan Allen 26 9 4 1.69
Stephen Anderson 22 1 1 0.36
Jalen Guyton 18 2 2 0.59
Josh Palmer 17 4 3 1.14
Offensive Line

A Chargers offensive line missing multiple starters would have been a recipe for disaster in previous seasons, but the group held up well today. Justin Herbert was under pressure just 21.9% of the time, pending review, with none of the offensive linemen allowing a pressure rate higher than 6.3%.

Defensive Line

Joey Bosa has been the team’s primary source of pressure all season, with few players giving him any significant help. In this game, Bosa wasn’t able to generate pressure, recording a pass-rush win rate of just 8.0%, pending review.

Nobody else was able to step up in a major way, with Chris Rumph II recording the best pass-rush win rate of the group at 16.7%. Still, Bosa remained the team’s best defender, causing all kinds of problems in the run game, including two tackles for loss.

Linebackers

Kyzir White played 56 snaps on defense for the Chargers, taking the field for every snap of the game. Nick Niemann and Amon Ogbongbemiga also saw linebacker snaps, but neither player was on the field for more than 20 plays. White tied for the team lead in defensive stops with two.

Secondary

Michael Davis was the most heavily targeted Chargers defender in this game, seeing five passes thrown into his coverage. He allowed four catches for 85 yards, with a missed tackle not helping his grade.

Derwin James was again making plays all over the field, notching a pair of defensive stops to tie for the team lead and registering a pressure on one of his four rushes.

Coverage Snaps Targets Receptions Yards
Michael Davis 31 5 4 85
Asante Samuel Jr. 30 2 1 9
Chris Harris Jr. 26 4 2 12
Tevaughn Campbell 1 0 0 0

Denver Broncos

Quarterback

Drew Lock drew his second consecutive start but was knocked from the game with an injury, replaced by Brett Rypien for a few snaps. Lock took 28 dropbacks and completed 18 passes for 245 yards at 9.8 yards per attempt. Those numbers flattered his play, and there weren’t as many flashes of big-time throws as there was last week.

Dropbacks aDOT YPA Adjusted Comp. %
Drew Lock 28 8.6 9.8 80.00%
Brett Rypien 2 15 0 0.00%
Running back

A week ago, the Raiders completely shut down the Denver running game. And while it did better this week, it was only a marginal improvement. Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams combined for 24 attempts but gained just 73 yards, 52 of which came after contact.

Wide Receivers/Tight ends

Noah Fant was the biggest playmaker for the Denver offense in this game. He came down with a 35-yard catch and run and finished the game with five catches for 87 yards. He moved the chains four times, twice as much as the next-best Denver receiver.

Offensive Line

Despite Drew Lock averaging over three seconds per pass, the Denver offensive line held up well. Lock was pressured on just 21.4% of his dropbacks pending review, with none of his offensive linemen surrendering a pressure rate higher than 10%.

Defensive Line

The Denver defensive line played solidly across the board but lacked true impact players. Jonathan Harris notched three defensive stops against the run to lead all Broncos defensive linemen. He had two tackles for loss or no gain, and his average tackle came just 1.6 yards downfield.

Player Pass Rushes Stops Pass-Rush Win Rate
Malik Reed 25 0 12.00%
Dre'Mont Jones 21 0 19.10%
Shelby Harris 20 0 10.00%
Aaron Patrick 15 1 0.00%
Andre Mintze 15 1 0.00%
Shamar Stephen 14 1 7.10%
Jonathan Harris 13 3 7.10%
Linebackers

Jonas Griffith continued his impressive play for Denver at the linebacker spot, making the most of opportunities only afforded to him due to injuries that have hammered the position group all season.

Griffith led the team with four defensive stops in the run game but wasn’t as good in coverage, allowing two first downs on four targets.

Secondary

Patrick Surtain II going up against Keenan Allen was a fun battle in this game. Overall, Surtain was the most tested player in the Denver secondary, seeing nine targets sent his way. He allowed just five catches for 40 yards, three of which were first downs. He forced two incompletions and held up well against one of the game’s best route-runners.

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