The last time the Broncos played the Chargers in Denver, they lost 41-3. I was at that massacre and I basically witnessed a funeral procession as fans left the stadium at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Remembering that game and the game in December where Philip Rivers talked a little trash to Jay Cutler has got to have the Broncos focused on Sunday’s game. Because of last year’s history between the two teams, I’m sure we’ll see an explosive Broncos offense and a three and out defense this Sunday. My prediction: Broncos - 31 Chargers – 20.
Broncos – The Broncos will face a much tougher defense this week. The big story is Brandon Marshall’s return. I suspect that the Raiders were playing the run last week, and that’s one of the reasons why Eddie Royal had such a big game. So, things should open up for the Broncos’ running attack because of Brandon Marshall’s return and the Chargers concern over Royal. Selvin Young and Andre Hall need to find their holes and continue to run up field just like they did against Oakland. The tight ends need to have sure hands because they Raiders defense will undoubtedly be focused on Marshall and Royal. Thus, they make great big targets for Cutler. Converting in the red zone is always a concern with this team, so if they avoid those red zone penalties and constantly put seven on the scoreboard, then the team should get a comfortable lead early on in the game.
Chargers - They’ve got an offensive powerhouse. I hate to say this, but Philip Rivers is a talented QB. He’s got plenty of targets in Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers, and Antonio Gates. Add in Ladanian Tomlinson and now you see why they are a top Super Bowl contender. Vincent, Chambers, and Gates each had a TD last week, and Tomlinson carried the ball 21 times for 97 yards. Now, that’s a well-rounded offense. The Broncos defense has got their work cut out for them, and the Broncos offense has got to constantly put points on the board because even with a large lead, this Chargers team is capable of scoring a lot of points very quickly.
Broncos – Champ Bailey, Dre Bly, and the rest of the defense may have had a lot of nightmares this week as they prepared for this offense. There’s not much to say here except every single defensive player has got to be on top of his game. The Panthers won last weekend because of a big second half defensive play that they made. The ball was stripped from Antonio Gates and run straight into the endzone. If the Broncos’ defense can score once off of a Chargers mistake, then the game could really open up.
Chargers - Just as they have an all-star cast on offense, their defense isn’t too shabby either. They will miss Shawne Merriman for the rest of the season due to two torn knee ligaments. The Broncos, however, cannot relax in the least bit because they still have Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason, and Shaun Phillips. This defense did show some gaps last weekend as the Panthers receivers had 23 catches for a combined 247 yards. No one can ignore the Panthers game winning drive into the endzone either. Again, the key to the Broncos’ offense is balance. If they can keep the Chargers guessing, then the defense will have some lapses.
Broncos - Kickoff coverage was of concern last week because of Johnnie Lee Higgins’ 58-yard return on the first kick off. Darren Sproles had a big return (41 yards) last week, so the Broncos need to be aware of that. As long as there are no turnovers on special teams, I’ll be happy. The Broncos have to at least give Cutler and the rest of the offense a chance to score. Kicker Matt Prater performed well last week, but he didn’t have to kick in any high pressure situations. I’ll be fine if I don’t have to witness that.
Chargers - The Chargers kicking game got a lot of practice last week. Mike Scifres was forced to punt five times and he landed the ball inside the 20 twice. Nate Kaeding made all of his extra points and the one field goal that he attempted. They looked solid on their kickoff coverage.
Broncos – Mike Shanahan used his playbook to perfection last week. He kept the Raiders guessing, and he had them playing on their heels. He opened the game handing the ball off to receivers, and he even let the rookie receiver have his turn at QB. I’m sure the coaching staff has some more tricks up their sleeves for this Chargers team.
Chargers - Norv Turner’s play calling has been controversial in the past. He’s got a lot of pressure on him with this team because all of the pieces are in place for them to make the Super Bowl. He’s got the talent, and an injured AFC QB in Tom Brady. All signs point towards Tampa Bay, and if they don’t get there, then Turner will be to blame.
Tags: Andre Hall Antoin Cason Antonio Gates Brandon Marshall Champ Bailey Chris Chamber Darren Sproles Denver Broncos Dre' Bly Eddie Royal Jay Cutler Johnnie Lee Higgins Ladanian Tomlinson Matt Prater Mike Scifres Mike Shanahan Nate Kaeding Norv Turner Oakland Raiders Philip Rivers Quentin Jammer San Diego Chargers Selvin Youn Shaun Phillips Shawne Merriman Vincent Jackson