Here are the three things to look for in the Broncos-Chargers game happening this Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego:
1. Philip Rivers vs Broncos defense.
We have a matchup here of the #2 quarterback in the NFL and the #1 defense in the NFL.
Rivers is having a great season despite the Chargers dismal 3-8 record. He’s got 3,511 yards passing, second only behind Tom Brady. He’s the seventh highest-rated QB at 100.7, fourth in the league with 319 yards passing per game. Rivers has thrown 23 TD passes and only 8 interceptions.
But the Chargers have virtually no running game. They are ranked 30th in the NFL with 81.7 yards per game.
The Broncos defense will be missing DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward, and Sly Williams, but if they are able to contain Rivers, the Broncos will win this game.
Here’s what Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said:
“This quarterback this week—any quarterback that passes Joe Montana for number of touchdown passes is certainly one to be reckoned with, and he’s still going strong. [Chargers QB] Philip Rivers is—they’re team obviously hasn’t had a great year, but he’s having a great year. He’s been a great quarterback for a long time. He’s obviously a guy we’re concerned with. They’ve got one of the top passing games in the league. We have to stop the run first, as always, but he’s one of those quarterbacks I’ve talked about. He can beat you throwing the ball. He had one game where he had 500 yards passing and no interceptions. That’s incredible. I know Philip pretty well. I was there with him. We drafted him when I was there. He’s a great competitor, great person, but he’s also a great competitor. [He is a] good trash talker, too. I’m sure I’ll get some of that on the sideline.”
2. Broncos running game
If the Broncos can run the ball against the Chargers like they did against the Patriots, it’s game over.
The Chargers defense is ranked 24th in the NFL, 26th against the run. They’re allowing 27.9 points per game which is 30th in the league. They are awful.
This is a great opportunity for the offensive line to establish some dominance. CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman should get chances to break a big play like they did last week, and a strong running game is Brock Osweiler’s best friend as he makes his 3rd start.
Running back CJ Anderson said:
“I just think it's us executing. That's us saying that we're than what we've putting on for a couple of weeks. We're better than some games that we've put out there. There is a lot of talent in this locker room. We know that. I think that we all individually just said, 'We're going to do our job to the best of our ability and not worry about anybody else,' and it all worked out.”
3. Avoid the letdown
The last time the Broncos won a big game, they came out the next week and lost.
They beat the Packers on Sunday Night Football, then went to Indy and didn’t get it done. Guarding against a letdown is tough. But the Broncos told us all week, this is different.
This is a divisional game. This is the Chargers. If the Broncos can show up and start fast, they should be able to roll.
Here’s what they said:
Head coach Gary Kubiak:
“The last time we came off a pretty big Sunday night win, we didn't play very good for a half of football the next week. We talked about that. It was a very physical game, so we're taking some steps this week to make sure we get to game day as fresh as we possibly can.”
Quarterback Brock Osweiler said:
“I think it starts in practice. I believe if you practice really well on Wednesday and Thursday, you start fast in practice, it will carry over to the game on Sunday.”
Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said:
"I don't think it has letdown, it's a division game. Anytime you play a division game, we approach it like a championship game, so there's no letdown here at all."