Two of their star players, Vincent Jackson and Shawne Merriman, decided to get selfish and declare that they wouldn't play unless they received a Salary increase. Hmm, now doesn't that sound familiar. The Chargers refused to budge and Merriman has since been traded. Jackson won't play until Week 12 because of his hold out and for violating the league personal conduct policy.
Weather and Conditions
The Chargers play at Qualcomm Stadium, a.k.a. "The Q." It boasts a Grass surface and holds a capacity of 71,294. The game is scheduled for 6:30PM MST and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Mike Tirico will be calling the play-by-play while "Jaws" (Ron Jaworski) and "Chuckie" (Jon Gruden) provide their colorful commentary. As an added bonus, Billy Ray Cyrus will sing the national anthem before the game. Oh say can you see my Achy Breaky Heart.
The weather is expected to be:
|Precip: 40% Spectator Index: 7|
Wind Impact: LIGHT
W at 10.0 mph
For the latest forecast, go here.
Injuries and external factors
The Denver Broncos aren't the only team devastated by injury in 2010. The Chargers have had their share as well. Starting off with their promising 2nd pick ILB Donald Butler, who hit the Injured Reserve List before the start of the season and snowballing from there. Three Long Snappers; David Binn, James Dearth, and Ryan Neill have come and gone. ILB James Holt, OLB/DE Jyles Tucker, ILB Kion Wilson and WR Buster Davis have all been lost for the season. San Diego has also missed their starting SS Steve Gregory, who recently finished a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Butler went down on one of the first days of training camp with a torn Achilles' tendon. Binn and Dearth were injured two days apart and Holt was a key special teams player. This doesn't mean you have to feel sorry for the Chargers, I'm just informing you of some of the reasons for their fall from grace.
Fortunately, the Bye week enabled the Chargers to heal up some of their missing starters.
K Nate Kaeding is on track to return Monday night. It would be his first game action in a month since "tweaking" a groin he had surgically repaired over the off-season.
WR Malcolm Floyd (hamstring) will play.
SS Steve Gregory (Shoulder), DE Travis Johnson (Shoulder) and TE Kris Wilson (Back) were Limited in practice Thursday. Out of the three, Wilson would be the biggest loss.
WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) is questionable.
TE Antonio Gates is fighting a painful plantar fascia tear on his right foot, a sprained ankle, and turf toe on his left foot. The tear is what is likely to keep him from playing against the Broncos. He has not practiced for weeks and will be a game time decision. It is doubtful he will play.
RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) aggravated the same right ankle injury from Week 2 during the win over the Texans two weeks ago. It was initially a high ankle sprain. He hasn't worked out since then and is doubtful for the game.
Pat Watkins, a 6-5, 220-pound free agent, was signed this week. A 5th-year player that spent his first four seasons with Dallas, Watkins played in 13 games last year and finished 2nd on the team with 18 special teams tackles and adding 22 on defense. This signing will help bolster the Chargers weak Special Teams Unit.
The San Diego Offense is ranked 5th in points (26.6), 1st in Total yards (420.2), 1st in Passing yards (312.4) and 14th in Rushing with 107.8 yards per game. They are 45.1% (51/113) on 3rd down conversions and the Offensive Line has given up 21 Sacks.
Philip Rivers is the starting quarterback for the Chargers. He is 215/329 for 2944 yards, a 65.3% Completion Rate, 19 TD's, 8 INT's and a 102.9 QB Rating. 11th year man Billy Volek (1/1 for 8 yards) is the second option.
The Running Back's are Rookie Ryan Mathews (382 yards, a 4.4 avg, 2 TD's, 3 Fumbles and 15 Receptions for 92 yds), Darren Sproles (131 yds, a 5.0 avg. and 29 Rec, for 267 yds, 1 TD) and Mike Tolbert (395 yds, 4.5 avg, 7 TD's and 14 Rec, for 99 yds). The Fullback is Jacob Hester (41 yds, a 4.6 avg. and 15 Rec, 110 yds, a 7.3 avg, 1 TD).
The Chargers Wide Receiving Unit is supported by Malcom Floyd (24 Rec, 513 yds, a 21.4 avg, and 3 TD's), Legedu Naanee (11 Rec, 181 yds, a 16.5 avg and 1 TD), Patrick Crayton (25 Rec, 409 yds, a 16.4 avg), Buster Davis (21 Rec, 259 yds, a 12.3 avg. and 1 TD), Rookie CFA pickup Seyi Ajirotutu (9 Rec, 185 yds, a 20.6 avg. and 2 TD's), and Kelley Washington. Patrick Crayton and Seyi Ajirotutu have been the primary receivers with the injuries to Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates. Ajirotutu is proving himself as a worthwhile deep threat.
The Tight End position is anchored by All-Pro Antonio Gates (40 rec, 663 yds, a 16.6 avg. and 9 TD's). Randy McMichael (7 rec, 84 yds, a 12.0 avg and 2 TD's) and Kris Wilson (4 Rec, 63 yds. and a 15.8 avg.) are the second and third stringers.
The starters on the Offensive Line are LT Marcus McNeill, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Louis Vasquez, and RT Jeromey Clary. Brandyn Dombrowski is the backup at Tackle, Scott Mruczkowski at Center and Tyronne Green at Guard.
Defensively, the Chargers rank 18th in points against (21.9), 2nd in Total points against (247.7), 4th in Pass Defense (185.2) and 5th against the run (89.4). They have Sacked the opposing quarterback 27 times and are allowing their opponents a 36.4% (43/118) conversion rate on 3rd down. They also have 8 Interceptions and 8 Forced Fumbles.
On the Defensive Line, Jacques Cesaire (11 TKL, 3 AST, 1.5 SK) and Luis Castillo (7 TKL, 4 AST, .5 SK) man the End positions. Travis Johnson (10 TKL, 4 AST, 1 SK) and Vaughn Martin (1 AST) play second fiddle. At the Nose Tackle position, Antonio Garay (24 TKL, 6 AST, 4 SK) is the starting anchorman and Ogemdi Nwagbuo (6 TKL, 1 AST) and Rookie Cam Thomas (5 TKL) are in the rotation.
The Linebackers are Shaun Phillips (26 TKL, 4 AST, 7 SK, 1 INT, 1 TD, 7 PD) and Antwan Applewhite (21 TKL, 3 AST, 1 SK, 1 FF, 1 PD) on the Outside. Rookie CFA pickup Brandon Lang, Antwan Barnes (8 TKL, 2 SK) and Larry English (2 TKL, 3 AST, .5 SK) are the substitutes. On the Inside, Stephen Cooper (29 TKL, 4 AST, 1 SK, 1 FF, 3 PD) and Kevin Burnett (45 TKL, 7 AST, 5 SK, 2 FF, 1 INT, 4 PD) handle the chores. Brandon Siler (13 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 SAF, 2 PD) and David Herron (2 AST) sub for them.
The Cornerbacks are Quentin Jammer (22 TKL, 2 AST, 1 INT, 8 PD) and Donald Strickland (17 TKL, 2 AST, 1 SK, 1 FF, 2 PD) on the Left side and Antoine Cason (34 TKL, 3 AST, 2 INT, 1 FF, 9 PD) and Dante Hughes (2 TKL) on the Right.
Paul Oliver (29 TKL, 9 AST, 1 INT, 1 FF, 3 PD), Quinton Teal (6 TKL) and Rookie Darrell Stuckey are the Strong Safeties. Steve Gregory (26 TKL, 7 AST, 1 INT) is among the team's leading tacklers despite missing 4 games. The Free Safeties are leading Tackler Eric Weddle (45 TKL, 8 AST, .5 SK, 5 PD) and Tyrone Carter (6 TKL).
The Chargers Special Teams Units aren't special at all. Injuries and blunders have turned this area into the worst group in the league. If ST's coach Steve Crosby’s job isn't in jeopardy, then Mile Priefer has nothing to worry about. The Chargers have had one Field Goal and five punts blocked. They have given up three Returns for TD's, had lousy snaps on FG attempts and the return game hasn't been what anyone would expect from Darren Sproles.
San Diego has had two Kickers this season, Nate Kaeding and Kris Brown. Kaeding was 7 for 9 (77.8%) with a long of 48 yards in the first 6 games for the Chargers. He made all 18 Extra point attempts. His Kickoffs land around the 8-yard line. He has 1 Touchback and 1 failed Onside Kick attempt. Chargers opponents have returned 25 of his Kicks an average of 25.4 yards and 2 have been returned for Touchdowns.
In the last 3 games, Kris Brown is 4 for 5 (80%) with a long of 36 yards. He has made all 8 of his Extra Point attempts. Brown's Kickoffs land at the 11 yard line. He has 1 Touchback and is 1 for 2 in Onside Kicks. 14 of his Kickoffs have been returned an average of 21.9 yards.
The current Long Snapping Specialist is Rookie Mike Windt. The Chargers have used 3 of them this season.
Mike Scifres is the Holder on Field Goal situations and takes care of the Punting duties. Mike is having a terrible season. Five of his punts have been blocked and one has gone for a touchdown. His 48.0 yard average is among the league leaders, but his net is a mere 27.0 yards, good for 35th in the NFL. Of his 30 Punts, 6 have gone for touchbacks, 4 have been Fair Caught and 6 have been placed Inside the 20. The Coverage crew is pathetic too, They are allowing a colossal 22.2 yards per Punt Return.
The Return men are Darren Sproles and Patrick Crayton. Sproles has 33 Kick Returns for an average of 24.2 yards, a long of 39 and 1 Fumble. He also has 16 Punt Returns for a 6.9 yard average, with 9 Fair Catches and a long of 13 yards. Crayton has Returned 1 Kick 31 yards and 2 Punts for an 11.5 yard average.
Mike Tolbert has 5.5 Special Teams Tackles, Quinton Teal 5, Claude Spillman 4.5, Tyrone Carter and Paul Oliver have 3 each. Kion Wilson had 6 ST tackles and 1 FF before ending up on Injured Reserve. Richard Goodman has 3 Tackles and an Onside Kick Recovery, but is now on the Practice Squad after the Chargers activated SS Steve Gregory.
THE FIRST 8 WEEKS
The Chargers began their season with a visit to the Kansas City Chiefs. Philip Rivers threw TD passes to Antonio Gates and Legedu Naane, but Jamaal Charles made a 56-yard TD, Matt Cassel hit Tony Moeaki for a 2-yard TD and Dexter McCluster returned a Punt 94-yards enabling KC to beat the Chargers 21-14.
San Diego rebounded in Week 2 and beat the Jaguars at home 38-13. This game was decided by halftime as Mike Tolbert had 2 rushing TD's. Philip Rivers completed 2 TD passes to Antonio Gates and a 54-yarder to Malcolm Floyd. Nate Kaeding nailed a 41-yard FG to cap the scoring.
Week 3 took the Bolts up the coast to Seattle where the Seahawks would feed on their ST's Unit. Leon Washington returned 2 kickoffs for TD's and Olindo Mare made a pair of 23-Yard FG's. Rivers threw TD passes to Gates and Floyd, but it was too little too late. Seattle was victorious 27-20.
Back home for a Week 4 match-up with Arizona, the Chargers thrashed the Cards 41-10. Rivers completed a pair of TD passes to Antonio Gates. Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews each ran for a score and Shaun Phillips added a 31 yard pick six. Arizona managed a 2 yard fumble return for a touchdown and Jay Feely's 53-yard field goal.
Week 5 brought another road loss and a second division loss as the Raiders squeaked by the Chargers, 35-27 on a Tyvon Branch 64 yard fumble return for a touchdown. Rivers threw a pair of TD passes and Mike Tolbert ran for another. Mike Scifres' had one punt blocked for a safety and another returned for a TD. Sebastian Janikowski and Nate Kaeding traded field goals twice, but Branch's fumble return sealed the deal.
The Rams sacked Philip Rivers seven times in a 20-17 victory over the Chargers in Week 6. San Diego scored on a Mike Tolbert run and a pass from Rivers to Buster Davis. St Louis responded with two Josh Brown field goals, a Sam Bradford TD pass to WR Danario Alexander and a Steven Jackson 7-yard rushing TD.
Signed the previous week because of Nate Kaeding's groin injury, new Kicker Kris Brown careened a 50-yard FG attempt off the right upright with 23 seconds left, letting the New England Patriots escape San Diego with a win in Week 7. The Chargers found new ways to flounder their way to another loss. They failed to take care of the football and it cost them a win at home. Six untimely penalties didn't help either.
San Diego snapped it's three-game losing streak and beat the Titans 33-25 in Week 8. Another Chargers special teams blunder led to a 2-0 Titans lead less than two minutes into the game. Nick Schommer blocked Mike Scifres’ punt and the ball bounced out of the end zone for a safety. Mike Tolbert ran for a 1-yard TD to take a 7-2 lead. Then it was the Titans turn. Rob Bironas hit a 21-yard field goal, Vince Young completed a TD pass to Craig Stevens and Chris Johnson ran for a TD from 29-yards out. The Chargers rallied with a Ryan Mathews 7-yard TD run, followed by Kris Brown's 34-yard FG.
Antonio Gates 48-yard touchdown catch late in the 3rd quarter put the Chargers ahead. Kris Brown made a 36-yard FG. Then Vince Young narrowed the lead on a 71-yard TD pass to Nate Washington, but the Titans failed on the 2-point conversion. Rivers threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles with 6:51 left. That turned out to be all San Diego needed.
In WEEK 9, Philip Rivers threw four TD's and the San Diego Chargers earned their first win on the road, beating the Houston Texans 29-23. Rookie Seyi Ajirotutu and backup TE Randy McMichael caught two TD's each. Arian Foster rushed 27 times for 127 yards and two TD's for Houston. The Texans turned four long drives into 20 points and controlled the clock for most of the game, but two missed fourth down conversions in the 2nd half cost them a 23-14 lead.
McMichael’s second TD catch cut the lead to 23-21 with 5:55 left in the 3rd quarter. The Chargers then stuffed Foster on 4th-and-1 from the 17 early in the 4th period. Rookie Kareem Jackson intercepted a pass intended for Ajirotutu near midfield with about 12 minutes left, but Matt Schaub lost yardage on a Sack/Fumble and Houston was forced to punt.
Rivers made the best of his second chance, throwing over Jackson for a 28-yard TD to Ajirotutu with just over five minutes left. Seyi had at least a 5 yard separation on the play. Mike Tolbert ran in a 2-point conversion to give San Diego a 29-23 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Houston had a chance for the go-ahead score in the final minutes, but Matt Schaub’s pass ricocheted into the hands of safety Paul Oliver.
Oliver caught the opening kickoff and inexplicably stepped out of bounds at the San Diego 4. Texans linebacker Stanford Keglar then deflected Mike Scifres’ punt, and Houston recovered at the Chargers 8. It was the fifth San Diego punt blocked on the season, and Foster scored on the next snap.
The Broncos hold the edge with a 54-45-1 record over the Chargers (19-31 on the road), but the Bolt's are 6-2 in their last eight games against Denver. The Broncos also own a 20-14 record against the Chargers in the month of November. This is the second consecutive season the Broncos have traveled to San Diego to face the Chargers on Monday Night Football. In last years contest, Denver beat San Diego 34-23 to complete a 6-0 start. However, the Chargers got revenge in week 11 when they spanked the Broncos 32-3 in Denver.
This is Denver’s 62nd appearance on Monday Night Football. It is also the 19th consecutive season the Broncos have appeared on the program, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Broncos own a 27-33-1 all-time record in games played on Monday Night Football. Denver is 7-23 in Monday night road games. Since 2005, the Broncos are 5-4 on Monday Night Football.
Vegas favors the Chargers by 10.
THE BOTTOM LINE
After yet another terrible first half of the season, the Chargers will be looking to finish strong; a tendency that is a recurring theme for them. San Diego has been beaten up at the Receiver position, but still manage to lead the league in Passing. They have also taken a beating at Inside Linebacker, but rank rather well defensively too. They have been missing their starting kicker for a month and 2 key Special Teams players are gone for the season. The Bye week will be a restorative for most of the health issues, but improvements have been put on hold because of them. The Chargers Pass Defense isn't the strongest and they are having trouble getting Turnovers. They’re 0-for-2 in the division so far and can't afford to have any Special Teams miscues on Monday Night or the Broncos will take advantage of them. And if last week’s impressive performance against the Chiefs doesn't scare San Diego, they've got another thing coming.