As NFL fans across the country get ready for Sunday’s games, there are many key division rivalries, possible upsets and important match-ups that will shape the playoff landscape for the rest of the 2012 season. One game that fits every one of these categories is the AFC West showdown between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in the Mile High city.
The last time these two teams met, it was literally a tale of two halves as the Chargers dominated and jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half. This was followed by the Broncos scoring 35 unanswered points in the second half led by Peyton Manning and a smothering defense that made Phillip Rivers look like Tim Tebow. That was the game that jump started the Broncos current four game win streak to build a two game lead in the unchallenged West.
This Sunday, it will be up to the Broncos to utilize their balanced offense from start to finish as they have been the past few games. That, to go along with a defense that is ranked sixth in the NFL should be enough to fend off the Chargers, who are reeling after dropping four out of their last five games.
The key match ups will lie in two areas for both teams this weekend. For the Chargers, it will be the play of QB Phillip Rivers, and the regrouping of his team by Head Coach Norv Turner, whose seat gets hotter each week, and is now beginning to show signs of irritation and wear. For the Broncos, the key will be to keep a balanced offense from start to finish, and exploit the Chargers weak offensive line with a vicious pass rush that Rivers could not escape a few weeks back.
This game really does not get much more complicated than that for either of these teams. The Chargers are pressed to win this game, because a loss would all but eliminate them from any possibility to make the playoffs. The Broncos would love to extend their lead to three games, which would, in reality, be four games because of the head to head wins against the Chargers.
If the Broncos play whistle to whistle at this juncture of their season, there may be no team that can stay with them. This is the precarious predicament the Chargers find themselves in. As the Broncos schedule gets easier, the Chargers’ gets tougher, and there is not much wiggle room for any more losses for Turner’s crew.
Many will say that the Chargers will be able to go score for score with the Broncos, but the way Denver’s pass defense has been, I see that as highly improbable. The injury to DE Elvis Dumervil from this past weekend is not as serious as everyone had thought as the MRI came back negative on his shoulder. He remains questionable for Sunday’s game, but understanding the type of player Doom is, he will do everything he can to be on the field for this game.
RB Ryan Matthews had a stiff neck in practice, which caused him to miss Wednesday as a result, but is probable to play Sunday for the Chargers. T Jared Gaither(groin) and LB Antwan Barnes(leg) are questionable for the bolts.
One thing we will learn on Sunday is just how much Norv Turner utilizes the word “unacceptable” while explaining another lost season for the SuperChargers. For too many years, this team has had some of the best talent that never amounted to a championship. It is about time that Turner labels his coaching skills as unacceptable. But I do believe that a loss to the Broncos in this Week 11, will go a long way to showing Norv Turner the door. There is only one other team that is more dysfunctional and schizophrenic than the Chargers, and they reside 3000 miles away and are known as Gang Green: yes, any mention of Tebow would undoubtedly lead to mentioning the dysfunctional New York Jets.
I stated in my NFL Picks article that the Broncos will win this game 38-17. The Chargers lack leadership in the three most important positions in the organization: Owner, Head Coach and QB. Just look at the Denver Broncos and you will see that they are the polar opposite. Broncos win their fifth in a row.
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