SAN DIEGO - The bye week is in the past and the second half has begun for the Broncos. But the team will have to continue on without head coach John Fox. Fox is recovering from his aortic heart valve replacement surgery and stepping in his place will be defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
This game against the San Diego Chargers starts a tough stretch for the Broncos as their next six opponents currently have a .500 or better record. Here are some of the things to look for as the Broncos and Chargers battle for the 106th time.
1. Peyton Manning vs Philip Rivers
These two men have thrown for a combined five 400-yard passing games this year. Peyton Manning has two and Philip Rivers has three. Expect fireworks through the air as both defenses rank near the bottom in the league against the pass. San Diego ranks 28th and Denver is 30th.
2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie vs Keenan Allen
The Chargers found a gem in rookie Keenan Allen. In the last five games, Allen has caught 31 balls for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Assigned to stop the hot receiver will be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who is fresh off his AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance against the Washington Redskins.
3. Shaun Phillips vs D.J. Fluker
After starting out the season with an impressive 5.5 sacks in the first five games Shaun Phillips has cooled off, only tallying one sack in the last three games. Phillips will have a little extra motivation as he faces his former team -- the Chargers.
4. Demaryius Thomas vs Derek Cox
If there is a player who will be targeted it will be Chargers Derek Cox. Cox was pulled out of the game last week against the Washington Redskins for his poor play. But at 6 feet 1 inch tall, Cox has long arms that will be needed to help keep the Broncos Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in check. Thomas has only one 100-yard receiving game this season.
5. Jack Del Rio vs Mike McCoy
This game can be called the battle of last year’s Broncos coordinators. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy led the offense for the Broncos while Jack Del Rio was in charge of the defense. Del Rio is coaching in relief for John Fox who is recovering from heart surgery. In his nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Del Rio has a coaching record of 68-71.