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The Denver Broncos(2-3) face off against their division rival San Diego Chargers(3-2) on Monday Night Football, in what will be a battle for first place in the AFC West.
The Chargers are coming off a loss to the New Orleans Saints, who picked up their first win of 2012. Leading the way for the Chargers through the air is QB Phillip Rivers. Rivers is considered among the elite QB's in the league and figures to be a touch matchup for the Broncos defense. On the ground, Running Back Ryan Matthews who for some reason decides to have career games against the Broncos, will lead the way. Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates continue to lead the Chargers passing attack.
Now lets take a look at the starters for the Chargers offense.
QB: Phillip Rivers
RB: Ryan Matthews
FB: LeRon McClain
WR's: Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem
TE: Antonio GatesOL: Michael Harris(LT), Tyronne Green (LG), Nick Hardwick(C), Louis Vasquez(RG), Jeromey Clary(RT)
QB Phillip Rivers is trying to rebound after a very disappointing 2011 season. So far this year, the Chargers QB has passed the ball for 1251 yard, 8 touchdowns and 5 Ints. Rivers has a solid 67.9 completion %, and is averaging 7.4 yards per completion. Rivers is leading the Chargers to the 19th ranked passing offense is the league. The Broncos need to get after Rivers and watch out for the deep ball. Rivers will be a tough test for the Broncos defense who have faced tough competition just about every week this year.
Peyton Manning has looked his old self the last few weeks. Manning 1499 yards, 11 TD's and only 3 INT's so far this year. Manning has a 66% completion percentage and is averaging 7.6 yards per completion. Those are MVP numbers if you ask my very biased self. The Chargers have the 20th ranked passing defense, and i think Peyton will take advantage of that. Manning has to get the Broncos offense off to a fast start. The Broncos have struggled in the first half, so hopefully that changes this week. Manning has lead the Broncos to the 5th ranked passing offense so far in 2012. A very nice change from last year.
The Running Backs:
Running Back Ryan Matthews has put up good numbers against the Broncos in the past, and is looking to continue that streak Monday Night. Matthews who has missed the first few weeks of the season is off to a good start this year. Matthews has 36 carries for 185 yards, which is 5.1 yards per attempt. Behind him is veteran Jackie Battle. Battle has 173 yards on 36 attempts, which is 4.8 yards per attempt. Veteran runner Ronnie Brown is second on the team with 17 catches for 149 yards. So expect the Chargers to utilize him in their passing offense. The Chargers have the 16th ranked rushing offense in the league so far in 2012. Matthews does concern me a bit. The Broncos run defense has been solid this year, outside of last week. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos defense fairs against the Chargers rushing attack.
Leading the way for the Denver Broncos is veteran Willis McGahee. McGahee has 376 yards on 83 attempts, and 3 touchdowns. The Broncos have the 17th ranked rushing attack in the NFL so far in 2012. Behind the veteran McGahee is rookie Ronnie Hillman. Hillman has 15 carries for 47 yards so far in 2012. Not the best numbers, but i think we'll continue to see the explosive rookie get more and more carries as the year wears on. The Chargers have the 5th best rushing offense in the NFL right now, so the Broncos will have a tough test Monday night on the ground.
The Receivers/Tight Ends:
Leading the way for the Chargers receiver core is the veteran Malcolm Floyd. Floyd has 20 catches for 358 yards and 1 touchdown. After him is veteran tight end Antonio Gates. The Pro-Bowl TE has 13 catches for 112 yards. The Broncos may have a tough time covering Gates Monday night. Gates has always been a pain for the Broncos, so I hope they have a plan for him. The Chargers deep threat is WR Robert Meachem. Meachem has only 9 catches, but for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. So the Broncos have to keep on him so he doesn't beat them deep. Overall no one really worries me of this group. Gates and Floyd are tough, but I think we can match up against them, We'll see though.
Demaryius Thomas is coming into his own. DT has 30 catches for 505 yards and 2 TDs. Pretty gaudy numbers. Behind him is the solid Eric Decker. Decker has 28 catches for 343 yard and 2 TDs. The Chargers have the 20th ranked passing offense, so I expect Manning to target both of these guys early and often. Veteran Brandon Stokley has been solid this year too. Stokes has 15 catches for 168 yards and 2 TD's as well. Like I have said every week, I've been very impressed by Stokley this year. He keeps coming up with big catch after big catch for the Broncos. Tight Ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen have been solid as well. Tamme has 21 catches for 175 yards and 1 TD, while Joel Dreessen has 11 catches for 98 yards and leads the team with 3 big TD receptions. I look for a big week from this unit with Peyton Manning spreading the wealth.
The Chargers offensive line ranks 26th in the NFL right now. The Chargers offensive line has given up 14 sacks and 19 QB hits so far this year. Von Miller and Dumervil, get ready to go after Rivers! The Chargers OL has lead the Chargers to 517 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. I expect the Broncos pass rush to get after Rivers this week, and hopefully the Broncos run defense rebounds this week with a solid performance.
The Denver Broncos have the 16th ranked offensive line in the NFL right now. The Broncos O-Line has allowed 10 sacks and 19 QB hits. The Broncos OL has lead the Broncos to 506 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns. Denver's offensive line is in the middle of the pack, I'd like to see that improve. Hopefully the Broncos OL blocks well this week and helps the Broncos win a big divisional game.