DENVER -- Numbers work in the Broncos' favor. Such is the case when a franchise owns five consecutive AFC West titles and a Super Bowl trophy. No AFC West opponent has swept the season series against Denver since former coach Josh McDaniels' Reign of Error in 2011. The Broncos win at home. It's what they do.
And then there's the Chargers. Even in their hiccup seasons -- of which there have been many of late -- they have given the Broncos fits. San Diego ended the Broncos' six-year road AFC West road winning streak two weeks ago.
"They still have (quarterback) Philip (Rivers), man," Broncos safety Darian Stewart said. "That's what makes those boys good."
It has been a tumultuous week with the loss of running back C.J. Anderson to injury, and Brandon Marshall out -- as Denver7 first reported Sunday -- with a hamstring injury. NFL Network reported cornerback Aqib Talib will not play because of a back injury, a bit of surprise given Talib's confidence on Friday. DeMarcus Ware, according to my sources, will play for the first time since breaking his right forearm on Sept. 18. Ware expressed optimism on Friday to Denver7 about his status, and tweeted it out before the game that the "Captain is back."
With Talib out, Bradley Roby moves into a starting role with Kayvon Webster taking his spot. Here are the inactives: Austin Davis, Cody Latimer, Aqib Talib, Marshall, Connor McGovern, Billy Turner and A.J. Derby.
The Broncos look to improve to 6-2 to set a wicked showdown next Sunday at Oakland. That's later. For now, here are my Take 5 keys to a Broncos victory that become harder with the injury report.
1) Run for glory
In losing to the Chargers on Oct. 13, the Broncos looked listless and predictable. Coach Gary Kubiak missed the game after being diagnosed with a complex migraine condition. The Broncos missed him. They passed 50 times and dropped back 52 times in the loss. Worse, they logged 16 attempts on the ground. That's not this offense. Look for the Broncos to throw 25-to-30 times today, and run 30-to-35. Booker is coming off a career-high 83 yards and is equipped to carry the load in Anderson's absence.
"We will find out, but certainly we think so. That’s why he’s here. We drafted him pretty early in the draft. Each of our backs we consider durable enough to carry the load," offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. "We’re going to do what we do best and see what happens.”
2) Throw vertically
The Broncos insist their run issues against the Chargers centered on poor communication. They should improve at home where audibles are easier. The ability to run creates man coverage on the outside. Demaryius Thomas continues to deal with a hip injury, but can still be a deep weapon. And that is Emmanuel Sanders' strength. Two pass plays of more than 20 yards would go a long way in creating balance in the Broncos' attack.
3) Control Bosa
Joey Bosa arrived late to training camp. However, the Chargers' first-round pick has proven worth the wait. He has completely changed how San Diego's front is viewed. He can line up at multiple positions, and create pressure from anywhere. The Broncos need to account for him. He could turn this game on its head with a strip sack in Broncos' territory. It's time for Russell Okung's best game as a Bronco.
4) Cover the TEs and backs
The Chargers followed the Falcons' blueprint in beating Denver. They used seam routes with tight ends and running backs to exploit Denver's linebackers in coverage. Marshall will not play because of a left hamstring injury. It means Corey Nelson will become critical to the defense.
"You have to step up. You are always one snap away. I have been preparing like I would play for two years," Nelson said. "I am ready for this opportunity."
Don't discount the importance of Roby and Webster in this game. The more Roby plays, the better off the Broncos are in sub packages.
5) Rattle Rivers
Rivers loves playing the villain. He has played well in Denver. He will get rid of the ball quickly, so don't look for a bunch of sacks today. But the Broncos need to get him off his mark. Make him move laterally and he will lose accuracy. If he stays in the pocket, he will play like an MVP. Just as last week, the Broncos need to set the tone by stopping San Diego on its first possession.
Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.