Both the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers will enter this week’s AFC West grudge match against one another looking to shake off tough losses which they endured during week five. The Broncos fell on the road to the New England Patriots 31-21 despite a comeback attempt during the fourth quarter while the Chargers lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-24 in the Superdome as Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas‘ record with his 48th consecutive game with a passing touchdown.
The 2-3 Broncos offense is currently ranked ninth in the NFL in offensive yards gained per game (388.4 yards), fifth in passing yards gained per game (287.2 yards), 17th in rushing yards gained per game (101.2 yards) and ninth in points scored per game (27 points) while their defense is 13th in offensive yards allowed per game (335.2 yards), 11th in passing yards allowed per game (215 yards), 21st in rushing yards allowed per game (120.2 yards) and 19th in points allowed per game (22.8 points).
Peyton Manning has answered all the questions in regards to if he can compete at a high level and if he can take a hit, but he hasn’t silenced the critics who are saying that the Broncos can’t gel in time to reach the postseason. This season, Manning has passed for 1,499 yards and 11 touchdowns (both 4th in NFL) while he has tossed just three interceptions (all in one game) and completed 66% of his attempts.
Manning’s favorite two targets so far this year have been wideouts Demaryius Thomas (30 receptions for 505 yards and 2 TD) and Eric Decker (28 receptions for 343 yards and 2 TD), and it seems that the chemistry between these three is improving week after week which is crucial for their success. Denver will need a big game out of their passing game on Monday Night Football because the Chargers are one of the top five teams in the league against the run. On defense the Broncos rely on their second-year stud linebacker Von Miller who can make a game-changing play on any given down. This year Miller has recorded 23 tackles, five sacks, seven tackles for a loss and forced a fumble; Denver will need Miller to make things happen this week along with defensive end Elvis Dumervil if they want to avoid falling to 2-4.
The 3-2 Chargers offense isn’t as explosive as it has been in season past and ranks 23rd in offensive yards gained per game (334.8 yards), 19th in rushing yards gained per game (231.4 yards), 16th in rushing yards gained per game (103.4 yards) and 13th in points scored per game (24.8 points) while their defense is playing well ranking fifth in rushing rushing yards allowed per game (74 yards), tied for 11th in offensive yards allowed per game (334 yards), 20th in passing yards allowed per game (260 yards) and 11th in points allowed per game (20.4 points).
Phillip Rivers is off to a bit of a slow start this year (1,251 passing yards, 8 TD, 5 INT) and will need to have a much better game this week in order to match the production that Manning will undoubtedly produce. Rivers must locate tight end Antonio Gates (13 receptions for 143 yards) across the middle and in the end zone along with Robert Meachem (9 recpetions for 159 yards and 2 TD) and Malcom Floyd (20 receptions for 358 yards and a TD) down field to open up the Chargers air game and produce some points on the scoreboard. San Diego running back Ryan Matthews looks 100% healthy and will also we an integral part in the Chargers success if he can find room against the Denver defense to make plays both on the ground and air games. In Matthews limited action this year he has rushed for 185 yards on 36 carries and scored a touchdown while receiving 13 passes for 122 yards. The Chargers defense will need linebacker Shaun Phillips to get as much pressure on Manning and the Broncos backfield as possible, if he can’t then it will be a long game for the San Diego defense and their fans.
This should be a perfect Monday Night Football game filled with plenty of big plays on both offense and defense with positioning within the AFC West up for grabs. I like the Broncos to get the win in an explosive 34-27 game.