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AFC West Showdown: Chargers vs. Broncos Clash

Week 17 of the NFL season brings a lineup of thrilling matchups, and one of the standout battles takes place in the AFC West as the Los Angeles Chargers gear up to face the Denver Broncos. Set to unfold on Sunday, December 31st, at the Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, this showdown promises high stakes and intense competition, scheduled for a 4:25 PM kickoff.

The Broncos hold the advantage in this divisional clash, having secured a convincing victory over the Chargers earlier this season, emerging triumphant with a 24-7 win in Los Angeles on December 10th. Denver, now the favorites with a -3.5-point spread for this matchup, seeks to maintain their dominance against the Chargers, setting the stage for another gripping encounter, with the total set at 36.5 points.

The Chargers (5-12) come into this game following a string of losses, their latest setback being a 24-22 defeat against the Buffalo Bills. With six losses in their last seven games, including the prior 17-point loss to Denver, Los Angeles is eager to end their skid. Their road record stands at 3-4, having suffered a 63-21 loss in their last away game against Las Vegas.

Despite a valiant effort against the Bills, the Chargers fell short, managing just 273 total offensive yards while maintaining possession for 33:04. Interim coach Giff Smith highlighted the team's strategic approach but lamented falling marginally short in their quest for victory. Notably, kicker Cameron Dicker's stellar performance with five field goals, including a 53-yarder, showcased their resilience. Quarterback Easton Stick, in just his third game of the season, displayed promise, completing 66.3% of his passes for 651 yards and three touchdowns.

However, the Chargers face challenges with key players like Justin Herbert sidelined for the season. The team lists several players, including Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer, as questionable for the upcoming clash.

On the other hand, the Broncos (7-8) suffered a narrow 26-23 defeat against the New England Patriots, marking their second consecutive loss and dimming their playoff hopes. Despite a resilient comeback that saw them equalize, a 56-yard field goal sealed their fate. Coach Sean Payton acknowledged the team's narrow margin for error, emphasizing the need for improvement.

Denver faces a quarterback change, benching Russell Wilson in favor of Jarrett Stidham, adding a new dimension to their strategy. Their reliance on the running game, led by Javonte Williams, remains a focal point, although the team aims for a stronger ground performance after tallying just 85 rushing yards against New England.

With uncertainties surrounding key players, both teams brace for a critical showdown that holds significant implications for their season. As the Chargers seek redemption and the Broncos aim to reignite their playoff hopes, all eyes turn to this AFC West clash poised to deliver an enthralling battle at Mile High.

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