The Broncos have missed the playoffs in each season since winning Super Bowl 50, a streak that has now reached eight years. But despite that, the team has always had success against the Los Angeles Chargers.
In fact, the Broncos have beaten the Chargers at least once each season for over a decade. The last time the Chargers were able to sweep the Broncos in a season came all the way back in 2010, when they played in San Diego. This past season, the Broncos swept the Chargers.
That success won't come as easily going forward as the Chargers have convinced Jim Harbaugh to leave the college ranks and come be their new head coach. This is less-than-ideal news for the Broncos.
The Broncos still have a good head coach in Sean Payton, but having to play Harbaugh, the guy Denver's new ownership seemed to really want to hire last offseason, twice per year is not music to the ears. And for all of Payton's past accomplishments with the New Orleans Saints, he didn't achieve those against Harbaugh.
Harbaugh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014, has a 3-1 career record against Payton.
In their first head-to-head meeting in January 2012, the 49ers hosted the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. Those who can remember that game would call it one of the best playoff games (video) in NFL history, and it was San Francisco that outlasted Payton's Saints, 36-32.
The 49ers ended up playing in the Super Bowl that year.
The following season in a rematch, San Francisco went into the Superdome in New Orleans and won by 10 points.
The following season in another close game, the Saints were able to win it on a field goal as time expired. That serves as the only time Payton has beaten a team coached by Harbaugh.
In November 2014, the 49ers again beat the Saints on the road, winning 27-24 in overtime.
After that season, Harbaugh and the 49ers parted ways and the coach went on to the University of Michigan where he turned that program into a perennial contender and eventually won the national championship.
Now, he returns to the pro ranks and will look to do the same with the Chargers. We can argue that this is a different time and these are different teams, but it's hard to argue with the success that Harbaugh has had everywhere he has gone.
For Payton, this won't be like coaching against Brandon Staley. This is going to be a stiff challenge and it's one that Payton has not had a great rate of success against in the past.