The problem with all this edge is that the San Diego Chargers have to worry about one little problem. If their star running back, Ryan Mathews, can’t go, then it’s up to Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown to split the carries.
It might be enough to hold Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos back. Manning is familiar with losing Chargers’ backup running backs, but if the run game isn’t superb, then problems would ensue.
Best-case scenario — This could be one of Manning’s worst losses, with credit to Philip Rivers dismantling another Manning-led team.
At the worst — This could be eerily similar to the 2007 AFC Championship game, the same game where LaDainian Tomlinson sat on the bench while Michael Turner and Darren Sproles led the running game. That high-octane Chargers team couldn’t get a touchdown and relied too heavily on field goals.
Mathews seems to have injured his ankle in the Week 17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Though maybe not as serious as Tomlinson’s high-ankle sprain in ’07, there is some concern to Mathews’ injury, because in last week’s playoff victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s obvious he’s been playing hurt and wasn’t available to finish out the fourth quarter.
On Sunday, Mathews is going to play, although how much he will play is questionable. Mike McCoy and the coaching staff have been tight-lipped about Mathews over the week. If he can’t go four quarters, it might not be the end of the world because it might be a good thing to keep the Broncos guessing on who’s back there with Rivers.
If Mathews isn’t in the backfield, it’s going to be a shootout with Manning, and that’s definitely not in the game plan for the Chargers.