Week 11: San Diego Chargers At Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackPhilip Rivers has all the tools to carry the Chargers on his back and allow them to light up the scoreboard. However, once Rivers makes a mistake in a game it appears that he knows he will make another and his tension level increases. Instead of playing free and easy football, the tension level rises and that carries over to his teammates.Peyton Manning has gone from the comeback trail to a legitimate MVP candidate. Manning is throwing the ball well and he is directing the Denver offense with expertise. While this last factor should not be a surprise given the way he ran the Colts’ offense for years, it is nonetheless impressive to do it again with a new team.
- OffenseThe Chargers have a difficult time sustaining their offense for four quarters. The Chargers don’t have big-name running backs in Ryan Mathews and Jackie Battle, but they both run with effort and they are somewhat effective. Malcolm Floyd is a fairly effective down-the-field receiver while Antonio Gates is a solid target at tight end.In addition to the high-powered passing game that Manning brings, the Broncos will overpower opponents with Willis McGahee and the running game. McGahee has rushed for 676 yards and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Demaryius Thomas has become a speedy threat at one of the receiver spots, while Eric Decker can catch nearly anything he gets his hands on.
- DefenseThe Chargers rank second in rushing defense and seventh in overall defense, but they are struggling to stop opponents in crucial situations. They gave up 34 points in their Week 10 loss to the Bucs and opponents have topped the 30-point mark in three of their last four games. Strong safety Atari Bigby has a team-leading 61 tackles while outside linebacker Shaun Phillips has a team-high 5.0 sacks.The Broncos will attempt to harass Rivers with their pass rush. It starts with the speed of outside linebacker Von Miller, who has already registered 10.0 sacks. He is a vicious tackler who is effective as a run defender. Elvis Dumervil has contributed 7.0 sacks from the defensive end slot. Wesley Woodyard has a team-high 80 tackles.
- Special TeamsNick Novak has taken over from Nate Kaeding as the Chargers’ placekicker. He has made 9-of-10 field goal attempts and his only miss came from outside of 50 yards. Mike Scifres is averaging an impressive 48.7 yards per punt and has dropped 14 of his 34 punts inside the 20.The Broncos are getting excellent production from their return game. Trindon Holiday has explosive speed and he has returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Matt Prater is a dependable field goal kicker who has made 12-of-13 attempts, including 3-of-3 from 50 yards and beyond.
The first meeting between defined the season for both of these teams. The Chargers built a 24-0 halftime lead and appeared to be blowing out the Broncos, but Peyton Manning turned the game around early in the third quarter and Denver mounted a monstrous comeback and won the game. The Broncos are charging, while the Chargers make crucial mistakes in clutch situations.