Denver Broncos (9 – 2)
San Diego Chargers (3 – 8)
That win made Brock Osweiler 2 – 0 as a starter for Denver. Does this mean he’s the new, full-time starter even when (and if) Peyton Manning gets healthy? Does this mean the Broncos can count on performances like this from him week-after-week while Manning is out? Are the Broncos firmly back in the Super Bowl 50 conversation?
I don’t have any answers here because I don’t really know what it means. Osweiler was perfectly pedestrian for 3 quarters last week and then all but perfect for the 4th quarter and overtime. That felt more like John Elway than Peyton Manning… The Broncos go in missing 4 starters. They go up against the Number 2 ranked passing offense in the league (having beaten the Number 1 passing offense last week). They have everything to play for this weekend.
I have to believe the Broncos are good enough to beat the 3 – 8 San Diego Chargers Sunday, but it may not be an easy win.
KEY MATCH UP
Phillip Rivers is having an amazing season for this trouble San Diego team. He’s been truly remarkable and Denver will have to shut him down Sunday to win the game. Though the Chargers cannot run, they can pass the heck out of the ball and are likely to put up good numbers here. The Broncos will have to weather a pretty significant storm, I think and, if the Chargers do manage to run the ball at all, this game could go either way.
Phillip Rivers is a competitor, the type of player you hate when he’s not on your team and love when he is. Can he will the Chargers to victory over the Broncos this weekend? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. The Broncos have had trouble with the Chargers in the past.
The X-Factor this week has to be Demaryius Thomas. Don’t be surprised to see a wide receiver screen to Thomas in Denver’s first series on Sunday to calm the receiver down and get him into the flow of the game. He looked alternately confused, frustrated and disinterested against the Patriots last week in route to his worst game as a pro. He had a terrific catch late in the game that helped the Broncos win and there will, hopefully, be carryover from that. If DT gets going, the Chargers are in trouble.
The Broncos should beat the Chargers. They are a superior team this year. They have motivation of a potential deep post-season run. The Chargers have the motivation of playing spoiler. While I think the Chargers will be very up for this game and would like nothing better than to derail Denver’s recent success, the Denver running game has been as advertised prior to the season in the last two contests and I think that will be the difference here. The Chargers cannot stop the run. Denver can run. The Chargers like to throw. Denver is best in the league against the pass. I think Denver gets rushing TDs and a defensive one in route to a pretty easy win.