Injuries, questionable head coaching and poor second-half play have been the themes of the Los Angeles Chargers season so far.
It's not often your franchise quarterback can suffer fractured rib cartilage and it be nowhere near the top of the most worrisome injuries. Joey Bosa's groin surgery, Rashawn Slater's ruptured biceps tendon, JC Jackson's lingering ankle issue and Keenan Allen's hamstring have left the Chargers shorthanded at key positions.
The good news? The Chargers are getting (somewhat) healthy before their AFC West showdown against the Broncos on Monday night. Justin Herbert got in a full practice, Allen is trending up, and Dustin Hopkins and Trey Pipkins got in limited sessions on Thursday and all signs point to them suiting up for Week 6.
It's not a perfect situation by any means -- Allen might need another week of rest -- but it represents a marked improvement relative to the last few weeks.
Even better for the Chargers? The Broncos are by far the most injured team in the NFL entering Week 6 in terms of the sum of annual contract value they currently have on Injured Reserve, the PUP list and the NFI List.
The Chargers will have a major health advantage over the Broncos in Week 6.
That's almost impossible to wrap your head around.
This week, the Broncos put cornerback Ronald Darby (torn ACL) left tackle Garrett Bolles (broken leg) and long-snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer (wrist/hand) on IR, giving them a whopping eight starters who are currently sidelined through injury.
The list includes budding running back Javonte Williams and wideout Tim Patrick, both of whom are out for the season with torn ACLs. Pass rusher Randy Gregory, maybe Denver's top-performing defender to start the year, is shelved with a knee injury.
In a bit of good news for the Broncos, star safety Justin Simmons (thigh) and corners Greg Dulcich and Michael Ojemudia are eligible to come off IR this week.
Still, that laundry list doesn't even factor in Denver's Week 6 injury report. Russell Wilson has been nursing an injury to his throwing shoulder for multiple weeks. As recently as Thursday, the Broncos listed 18 players on their injury report, including lead back Melvin Gordon and starting guard Dalton Risner, who didn't practice.
Injury reports don't decide games, obviously. If anything, they lessen the margin for error for teams like the Chargers who have a clear health advantage. But given how feeble Denver's offense has looked, you have to like Los Angeles' chances to pick up a big division win in primetime to keep up with the 4-1 Chiefs.
No excuses for Brandon Staley in this one.