SAN DIEGO (The Sports Xchange) – Those predicting the Denver Broncos’ demise when Peyton Manning got hurt are having second thoughts.

Brock Osweiler improved to 3-0 and Denver breezed past the San Diego Chargers 17-3 on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

With the win, the 10-2 Broncos tightened their grip on first place in the AFC West and kept pace with the AFC-leading Cincinnati Bengals in the conference in the race for home-field advantage in the postseason.

With New England losing to Philadelphia, the Broncos are the conference’s No. 2 seed.

What’s been uprooted is the notion the Broncos would collapse without Manning, the five-time NFL MVP.

“No one blinked with this being a road game,” Osweiler said. “We got a quick start, a quick score and then we slowed down a bit throughout the game. We did what we had to do to stay into it.”

Osweiler completed 16 of 26 passes for a touchdown and 166 yards. He was intercepted once.

“I think he continues to grow,” Denver coach Gary Kubiak. “The thing I really liked about him was he learns from his mistakes.”

The Broncos raced to a 17-0 second-quarter lead and coasted in for the win.

What we learned about the Broncos:

1. Brock Osweiler isn’t Peyton Manning. But Osweiler isn’t bad. The backup quarterback showed again why Denver coaches were confident the team — which has a stout defense — wouldn’t miss a beat when Osweiler replaced Manning. The Broncos’ 17-3 win over the Chargers on Sunday gave Osweiler three straight wins, with his latest being his second on the road. “I think he’s capable of making all the plays,” Denver coach Gary Kubiak said after Osweiler completed 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Is there a quarterback controversy brewing? “We have not got into that situation yet,” wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “Peyton is getting healthy. The team is worried about winning. As long as we keep winning, that is our main thing right now.”

2. The Broncos are fortunate to have premier pass rushers in linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. It stretches protections thin trying to account for both of them. But Miller showed on Sunday he does just fine by himself and Ware was inactive with a back injury. Miller had a game-him two sacks; the Broncos totaled four. “When you’re making plays and your teammates are going out there and making plays, it’s fun,” Miller said. Someone not enjoying Miller was Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The two exchanged words after one of Miller’s sacks. “I don’t think he was happy with the cologne I was wearing,” Miller said.

3. Denver is zooming up the AFC seeding chart, residing at No. 2 after the New England Patriots, the No. 3 seed, was defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cincinnati Bengals remain the top seed and Denver coach Gary Kubiak remains clueless to all of it. “I don’t know anything what else is going on around the league,” he said. “I think we’ve got to stay focused week-to-week, and I know that’s not what you all want to hear. I think we’ve got a tough month heading our way and we better take it one day at a time.”


–ILB Danny Trevathan had a great game, returning a Philip Rivers interception 25 yards for a touchdown. But Trevathan had to leave the game with a concussion and he didn’t return. Denver coach Gary Kubiak said Trevathan, who entered the game with the second-most tackles among Broncos, would enter the NFL’s concussion protocol.

–RB C.J. Anderson tweaked his ankle late in the game and didn’t return. Anderson was on his way to a good game, rushing for 42 yards on seven carries, with a long of 22. With Anderson out, Ronnie Hillman saw his load increase slightly. He rushed for 56 yards on 19 carries.

–SS David Bruton Jr. was involved in the play that injured wide receiver Dontrelle Inman’s neck. Bruton delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit, which was not flagged. Bruton, despite leaving early with a knee injury, had a game-high 12 tackles.