If the Denver Broncos can take away anything that the defense can improve on it is to stop Ryan Matthews and the running game.
In their Week 15 match-up against the San Diego Chargers, Matthews and the running game was able to move the chains and effectively keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines for the majority of the contest. This was key because the fewer chances Manning has to score, the better chance of the opponent’s victory. The Broncos defense can not allow that to happen again. They have to do a better job at stopping the run. It was a surprise to see the defense struggle against the run because it was one part of the defense that did play consistently until that fateful Thursday night showdown. There might be a glimmer of hope for the defense when it comes to the game on Sunday.
Matthews seemed to be injured during the Chargers’ Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He has been listed on the Chargers’ injury report with an ankle injury and so far has not participated in practice on Wednesday or Thursday. If he cannot practice Friday, there is a good chance he will not be suiting up, which is going to be critical for both sides of the ball. While the Chargers have Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead, they do not have quite the explosive power that Matthews brings to the table. Woodhead can catch in the backfield similar to what Knowshon Moreno is capable of and Brown is a veteran who can make a big play, but his age can play a factor.
The key for the Broncos no matter whom is in the backfield is to limit that back from moving the chains and keeping Manning from constructing scoring drives. As long as the Broncos defense can do that, they should have no problem shutting down the Chargers and moving one step closer to the Super Bowl. If they cannot, it will be a long game for Denver.