Khalid Alshami (@KhalidHAlshami) 8-3: Denver is starting Drew Lock this week and that is good news. The not-so-good news is that Lock is a raw rookie who spent half the season on injured reserve, so there's bound to be rust and mistakes aplenty. What Lock can show Sunday is promise for the future, flash his big arm and playmaking ability, while also showing some improvement in accuracy. The Broncos have their work cut out for them to come away with a win this week. On defense, Denver will look to bounce back after the long trip east contributed to their poor play in Buffalo. The Broncos always play well against the Chargers and Sunday should be no different. Sunday and the rest of the year are all about finding out which young players can fill roles for this franchise moving forward.
Pick: Chargers 19, Broncos 17
Josh Carney (@JCarney_Sports) 7-4: The Broncos right the ship this week, hopefully with Lock running the show offensively. With a QB that has a legit NFL arm at the helm, the offense should open up vertically for the Broncos, allowing Denver to strike for big plays down the field, something the Chargers should struggle with as Philip Rivers’ arm continues to decline. Denver gives fans a lot to be thankful for, especially Lock’s arm this Sunday.
Pick: Broncos 26, Chargers 16
Keith Cummings (@KeithC_NFL) 1-3: This week is all about picking with Lock in mind. Whether he'll play in this one shouldn't really alter the result, however. The Broncos will continue their trend of self-inflicted mistakes. Old Man Rivers picks on Harris Island this Sunday.
Pick: Chargers 28, Broncos 10
Carl Dumler (@CarlDumlerMHH) 5-6: If there was ever a wildcard game this season, it'd be this one. Nobody knows what the Broncos will get out of Lock. On the other side, it is starting to look like Rivers is falling off a cliff. The Chargers do get some good news this week with the return of S Derwin James, making an already strong defense that much better. The Broncos will catch the Chargers a bit by surprise early on but unfortunately, a late touchdown pass to Keenan Allen leads the Chargers to victory.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 20
Thomas Hall (@ThomasHallNFL) 7-4: Any optimism I had for this Broncos team has been drained, especially after the garbage they put on the field against the Bills. This team finds a way to lose close games, while others are squandered in embarrassing fashion. Maybe Lock can restore the optimism, but it is definitely a wait and see approach. The Chargers are not a very good team largely due to turning the ball over. The Broncos have had a difficult time taking the ball away all season so it's doubtful they win this game.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 13
Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen) 4-7: A QB change traditionally gives its team a spark, as we saw from Brandon Allen's first six quarters of play as a starter. Will Lock follow suit? Yes, he will. Lock has the unhappy fortune of going up against the No. 4 passing defense in his NFL debut, however, the rookie QB brings some mobility and swagger to the table that should help him overcome any early-game jitters. Lock will have his ups and downs and it will most certainly be a trial-by-fire. I like his odds of weathering the storm, though, as the Chargers are the 20th-ranked rushing defense, which means Lock won't have to carry the offense in his debut. Meanwhile, embarrassed by their impotent performance in Buffalo last week, the Broncos defense smothers the Chargers, forcing Rivers into multiple turnovers.
Bold Prediction: Right tackle Ja'Wuan James makes his third start as a Bronco, as the team pushes him out onto the field to help prop up Lock's debut.
Pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 16
Trevor Judge (@TrevorJudge) 5-6: If Lock plays in this game, and it's certainly trending in that direction, this Broncos team is capable of playing wiht just enough confidence to pull out a season sweep of the Chargers.
Pick; Broncos 23, Chargers 17
Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) 5-6: Sunday will officially usher in Locktember! Finally, after months of waiting, after the Broncos slow-rolled the second-round pick and dragged their feet as much as possible, Denver will be starting the rookie against the Chargers. It's a relatively safe matchup at home against a mediocre opponent, and one the Broncos should rally around, same as they did against the Browns, when Allen took over for Joe Flacco. Although I believe they'll fall short of the season sweep, wins and losses — and stats, for that matter — don't matter. It'll be nice to watch a young, hyped Broncos QB who boasts mobility, elite arm talent, and a legitimate passion for football. The future is now.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 20
Nick Kendell (@NickKendellMHH) 6-5: The Broncos are 3-8 and coming off of one of the most abysmal offensive outputs we have seen from the team in decades. Considering how anemic the unit has been, that’s even more unpalatable. Sounds like Lock will be starting, but this just isn’t a great Broncos team. Denver will flash, but just aren't talented or consistent enough to be the pick here.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 17
Bob Morris (@BobMorrisSports) 7-4: Lock starting against the Chargers is the very definition of an 'open secret'. Regardless, all eyes will be on the second-rounder to see what he brings. Meanwhile, the Chargers got multiple players back who didn't play against the Broncos last time. They will certainly make a difference in this game. But since the last time the teams met, something else is clear: Rivers is in decline. That's right, the Chargers join a growing list of teams in need of a new QB. That alone doesn't make it a given that the Broncos win this game. Teams know they can keep the defense on its heels by pushing the tempo. And the Broncos offense has a banged-up interior line and the offensive tackles aren't good enough to pick up the slack. That brings us back to Lock. Will he do enough to get the Broncos a win? Call me too optimistic but I'm betting he does enough and the team rallies around him, with the defense forcing Rivers into mistakes. Just bear in mind that the Broncos have three playoff contenders to face in the next four weeks, so I don't expect a winning streak to start. But the Broncos under Lock start off on the right note.
Pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 17
Lance Sanderson (@SandersonMHH) 8-3: With as bad as the offense has been over the course of this season, I wouldn't expect much to go right in what could be Lock's first career start. Whether it's Lock, Allen or Flacco at the helm, this offense has been mostly dreadful and a lot of that is situational play-calling that goes away from what has been working. Expecting that to change with the insertion of Lock would be foolish. The losing continues, as the Broncos split the season series with the Chargers.
Pick: Chargers 24, Broncos 20
Erick Trickel (@ErickTrickel) 5-6: This is a battle of bad teams. With Lock, the Broncos have more of a chance than with Allen at the helm and all signs point to the rookie starting. Lock is able to come in and give the Broncos offense a decent boost to scoot past the Chargers, while the defense hammers an over-the-hill Rivers.
Pick: Broncos 27, Chargers 16
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