Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos At San Diego Chargers
- QuarterbackThe Broncos should be in excellent form for their first road game against a divisional opponent. Peyton Manning should be at his best and most alert form in this game. Manning is completing 71.2 percent of his passes and he has a 29-6 TD-interception ratio. Unless the Chargers can put a ton of pressure on him, Manning should be able to cut up San Diego’s vulnerable secondary.The Chargers are coming off a painful overtime loss to the Redskins that they may have a hard time shaking. Philip Rivers has played solid football most of the season, as he has gone away from deep passes and concentrated on short- and medium-range throws. He cannot turn the ball over if the Chargers are going to have a chance of pulling off the upset.
- OffenseThe Broncos have more versatility on offense than any other team in the league. Knowshon Moreno may not be a star, but he is good enough to take advantage of opposing defenses that are most concerned with stopping wide receivers Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas. Welker will catch anything he can get his hands on, while Decker can go on a hot streak and carry the team.The Chargers have gotten a surprisingly solid contribution from Ryan Mathews, who may not be the most talented running back but he runs consistently hard. He helps the Chargers maintain possession. Wide receiver Keenan Allen has the quickness to get away from the defensive back and make the catch. Tight end Antonio Gates is strong enough to make the catch in traffic and keep drives alive.
- DefenseThe Broncos rank 24th on defense and they give up a lot of yards because their opponents are usually down by multiple scores and they have to keep on throwing to have a chance to get back into the game. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is a big-time hitter who leads the team with 59 tackles and also has three interceptions. Defensive end Shaun Phillips has a team-high 6.5 sacks.The Chargers have struggled on the defensive side of the ball because they don’t appear to have the strength to lock down the point of attack. The Chargers don’t get the kind of consistent play they need from their front seven. Free safety Eric Weddle leads the team with 62 tackles, while none of the San Diego pass rushers have more than 3.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsIt’s almost an embarrassment of riches for the Broncos, because they get excellent special teams play from explosive Trindon Holliday, who has already returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Placekicker Matt Prater continues to get the job done as he is 12-of-12 on his FG attempts.The Chargers' special teams will have to be at their best to contain Holliday. Eddie Royal has explosive speed and can hit a big one if he gets some decent blocking. Placekicker Nick Novak has made 15-of-17 FG attempts and punter Mike Scifres is an above average punter.
Even if the Chargers play their best game, it’s difficult to see them beating the Broncos unless there’s a turnover differential of at least three. The Broncos have too much firepower and the last thing they want to do is give this divisional opponent hope that it can get back in the race. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor