The NFL is a league of parity, and even when you think you know what’s going to happen the “unexpected” may occur. But really, it has gotten to the point where you must expect the unexpected. The San Diego Chargers were heavy underdogs last week going to Cincinnati, but Philip Rivers proved his team was the real deal and they took care of the Bengals to move on to Denver. The Broncos just completed possibly the greatest offensive regular season in the history of the NFL, but Peyton Manning’s legacy is in jeopardy heading into this game. We all know the statistics Manning has put together throughout his career, but the postseason seems to always cause trouble for him and his teams.
Broncos Offense vs Chargers Defense
It’s no secret as to the danger that the Broncos bring offensively. With Wes Welker back healthy, along with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas, Peyton Manning has multiple options to throw to, and the Chargers have a handful of worries. The last time the Chargers were in Denver they beat the Broncos 27-20, but Wes Welker did not play. Welker may not be a big-play receiver, but he is good for at least 3 third-down conversions per game, and that can drastically change the way a game plays out.
The Chargers defense has looked good of late, so I don’t expect for them to be completely outmatched. The reality for this matchup, though, is that the Broncos dictate how well they will play. If Manning shows up, this offense will be unstoppable. Guys like Corey Liuget and Melvin Ingram have a golden opportunity to be nationally recognized after this game if they can put pressure on Manning and get the Broncos offense off the field quickly.
Chargers Offense vs Broncos Defense
The Chargers offense, just like the defense, has started to heat up as of late. Philip Rivers is their leader, but much credit has to go to rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen. Allen, a 3rd round draft pick out of the University of California, has emerged as a legitimate #1 target for the Chargers. Watch for him and the rest of the passing game to take advantage of the Broncos 27th ranked passing defense. The Broncos certainly have a weakness in their secondary, but the key to the offense for the Chargers will be the ability to establish a running game. This game is the perfect example of an offense having to dominate the time of possession to have a chance to win. They did it last time these to teams met, so they know it’s possible.
The Broncos defense will miss their best player in Von Miller who tore his ACL in week 16. This guy is a game changer and arguably the best defensive player in the league. The Broncos defense is mediocre at best, and with the loss of Miller they will have to find another way to make game changing plays on the defensive side of the ball. As much pressure is being put on Peyton Manning to win this game, I believe it’s the Broncos defense that will decide the Broncos future.
Vegas has the Broncos favored by 9.5 points in this game, and I usually hate taking the heavy favorites in the NFL. The problem here is the fact that I believe the Broncos will roll over the Chargers in this game. Take Denver -9.5.
The Chargers have played their best football of the season these last few games, and both sides of the football have matured and made significant progress. This is great news for the franchise going forward as they have established building blocks to count on, but they have ran into a road block for this year. Peyton Manning is not clutch by any means, but he is on a superior team with an endless amount of options to throw to, along with a running game that is benefiting from the attention defenses have to give to the passing game. This will be a high-scoring affair, but the Broncos will be up big by the end of the game.
Broncos 38 – Chargers 24