CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Good teams respond well to bad games. It is a defining characteristic. The Broncos not only have encountered adversity, they asked it over dinner and a movie.
With a cluttered injury report, including star receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and a three-game road swing looming, the Broncos are staring directly into the bloodshot eyes of the beast. Do they rage against dying light and go gently into the night?
"We are relentless. I don't think anyone can stop us. I think all of our goals are still are out there and we are going to keep fighting and keep pushing until we reach every single one of them," linebacker Todd Davis said. "I am excited to see what this team does, and what this offense does. I am really excited to see what Trevor (Siemian) does. He's pumped up in practice this week, so I know he's ready to go. And I know the defense is ready."
The Broncos face a difficult challenge. They are underdogs at Los Angeles, a line that changed dramatically following the poor showing against the Giants. The Giants provided a possible blueprint to beat Denver. They ran the ball 32 times, 25 with quarterback Eli Manning under center. When the Broncos lost on the road a year ago, they couldn't contain the run. And remember, they did not win a single AFC West road game last season.
Without a U-turn against rivals, it's hard to see the Broncos returning to the playoffs.
"We are going to come out scratching and clawing," nose tackle Domata Peko said, believing the team will not become victim to the trap plays that sabotaged them against the Giants, and that the Chargers will likely run. "We recognize how important this game is."
Players know the score.
Go 4-2, and the chest puffs out and the windshield remains clear to the postseason. Fall to 3-3, and the questions and criticism mount.
"We want to stay above .500. You want to be seen as one of the good teams," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "And anytime you play in the division, those games are always a little bigger."
Receiver Demaryius Thomas (calf) returned to practice and is expected to play. ... Linebacker Brandon Marshall (right shoulder) practiced but there's no guarantee he plays Sunday. If he can't go, Corey Nelson, who is strong against the pass but has had issues against the run, will start. ... Right tackle Donald Stephenson is line to start with help from Allen Barbe if Menelik Watson (calf) is unable to suit up against the Chargers. ... Los Angeles has won two straight games, but remains winless at home.