The Denver Broncos have been waiting for this game all year long. Not so much the game against the San Diego Chargers, but the divisional game in which their defense choked last year and stopped what could have been the most talked about fairy-tale season in all of sports history.
The Broncos reloaded and waited patiently until the start of this season and when it arrived they took no prisoners. Manning and the offense crushed record after record while the defense struggled all season with injuries and questionable play.
The Chargers were never supposed to be in this situation, much less the playoffs. They remind me of the 2007-11 New York Giants teams that got hot at the right moment in the regular season and rode that all the way to the Super Bowl. Phillip Rivers is still one of my favorite players in the NFL because the kid is hockey-tough and can flat out play. Over the last few years play-makers have left the team and he did not have the best supporting cast around him. This year was pretty much the same but he learned how to deal with the players he had and is on the verge of leading them to the promised land.
These teams are division rivals so there is no need for any bulletin board material to get any player extra hyped for this game. Both games were close with each winning on the other’s home field, so the Chargers should feel pretty good about any upset chances, come Sunday.
Manning is pretty quiet except for when he is calling those funky audibles at the line of scrimmage. Rivers is a feisty competitor who wants so badly to win as he has watched other quarterbacks from his class get the hardware he so desperately wants. Both defenses are shaky, but the Chargers will break before the Broncos do.
This is a playoff game to the Chargers, a win adds another chapter to their Cinderella run to the playoffs. This is much bigger to the Broncos and Manning. His career is winding down and after the defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens last year, they badly want to erase that memory with a win this weekend. The Broncos have been the team to beat all season and they will continue that trend the following week as they prepare for the AFC Championship game.