NFL Week 8 – Chargers Look to Upset Broncos at Mile High (TNF)
John BensonNo comments
Last week, the talk around the Denver Broncos (5-1, 4-0 home) was dominated by whether Peyton Manning would break the NFL record for career passing touchdowns. Not only was that goal accomplished, but the impeccable pivot dismantled the visiting San Francisco 49ers and led the Broncos to a convincing 42-17 win.
Next up is a Thursday night contest against their current competition for AFC West supremacy, the San Diego Chargers (5-2, 2-1 away).
As usual, Manning is all business. “We’re playing a great team in the Chargers, a team we’re very familiar with, as they are with us. They beat us last year, so we got to get ready on this short week,” said Manning.
Added Broncos head coach John Fox, “We don’t live in the past. I’ve mentioned many times, you spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, you crash not looking ahead.”
The Chargers, who beat Denver 27-20 at Mile High Stadium last year, suffered just their second loss of the season last week, a 23-20 nailbiter against Kansas City. If the Chargers are going to have any chance tomorrow, Philip Rivers will have to resume his form from the first six weeks of the season. The 11th year QB is having his best season to-date (averaging 281 yards per game on 67% passing with 17 TDs and just three picks), but his numbers from week 7 (17 of 31 for 202 yards) look positively pedestrian by comparison.
The Chargers will also need rookie running back Branden Oliver to continue his torrid pace. In three games as a starter, Oliver has rushed for 316 yards and two touchdowns. He has largely made the Chargers brass forget about injured RB Ryan Matthews.
Oliver will be facing his stiffest competition yet, though. The Broncos run defense ranks third in the NFL, allowing only 74.3 yards per game.
Making matters worse for Mike McCoy’s crew, the San Diego defense has had a few issues of late.
Noted McCoy, “No one’s trying to miss a tackle. I think when you have talented players in space, at times there’s going to be a mismatch. We’ve just got to do a better job of it. We got exposed in certain plays there that made it look really bad. It’s the basic fundamental of football. We’ve got to do a better job with it.”
Considering that (a) this game comes on a short week, giving Peyton – the master tactician – less time to prepare, (b) it is a crucial AFC West divisional game, and (c) San Diego always plays the Broncos tough, the Chargers’ moneyline could be the play.