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Week 2, and Broncos fans are riding high after dominating the Raiders. Can they do it again, and at the same time take a two-game divisional lead over the Poweder Blue??? Let's find out...
It's Broncos/Chargers. Who has "The Edge"?
All that off the field stuff isn't the reason I pick Cutler. He's just the better quarterback. Stronger arm, more accurate, stronger mentally. Yes, Rivers has had more success, but now that Cutler is 100% healthy it's a whole new ball game. He's better, and he has that extra bit of motivation. Chargers fans won;t admit it, but deep down they know what Rivers is and they don't like it too much.
For Denver, it's easy. Get as much production from as many different guys as possible. Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Michael Pittman, Peyton Hillis. Whoever it is, whatever it takes. The Panthers did a good job with a two back system last week against the Chargers, and I expect the Broncos to try and dictate the game with the running game, especially if they get a lead. The best defense against L.T., afterall, is not allowing him to get on the field.
The Chargers obviously have talent outside. I like Chris Chambers alot, and Vincent Jackson will create size matchup problems for whoever covers him. Antonio Gates is the best at what he does, but he is dinged up a bit as well. I like the Broncos receiving corp, top to bottom, with Brandon Stokley getting it done, as well as Tony Scheffler.
For the Chargers, Marcus McNeill hasn't practiced the past couple of days and is questionable for Sunday. The Chargers have solid dpeth, and they played pretty well themselves on Sunday, allowing the Panthers to get to Rivers just once.
Still, Jay Cutler wasn't touched Monday Night, despite being on the road. I like the Broncos.
Jamal Williams and Luis Castillio are as good as it gets in a 3-4 defense. Toss in Igor OlShansky, and the Chargers can bring the heat, no doubt about it. When on the field, this group is as good as there is in the NFL. One has to wonder, however, if Castillo and Williams are healthy. They disappered at times last week against the Panthers, and for the Chargers to be successful they need those guys to play at a high level.
The Broncos crew showed flashes on Monday night of getting pressure up front but the consistentcy has yet to be there. It will be interesting to see what group Shanahan chooses to go with, Jarvis Moss for the pass rush or Ebenezar Ekuban and the run defense. Either way, I like the Chargers group better and the battle between the Broncos O-Line and the Chargers D-Line should be classic to watch.
For the Broncos, I may have given them the nod if I knew for sure that Boss Bailey was going to play. Bailey was slated to play on Monday, but despite being active and dressed stayed on the sidelines. Bailey is a good Ying to Nate Webster's Yang, and the group is better with that combination next to D.J. Williams. If Jamie Winborn gets the call again, the Broncos defensive situation gets a bit dicey, especially againt Tomlinson. The Broncos will have to maintain gap integrity and neither Webster or Winborn can list that as a strength. Both teams have playmakers, both teams have questions. Call it a draw.
At safety is where I feel the Broncos have a definite advantage. Let me start by saying I really like Eric Weddle. I think he is going to be a great player in this League. That said, the Broncos pair of Marlon McCree and Marquand Manuel is better than Clinton Hart and Weddle. You saw where the Panthers attacked the Chargers last week, down the middle, and I think the Broncos will try and take their shots towards these guys as well.
The Broncos have what appears to be a solid kicking game as well, though it is too early to tell. Both teams will need to get it done in kick coverage, but Darren Sproles is one of the best returning kicks. Special Teams is a definite advatage for the Chargers.
This game has all the looks of a classic. The Broncos definitely feel like they have a score to settle with the Chargers. Jay Cutler is on a mission to prove to everyone that last year had more to do with his medical condition and nothing at all to do with talent, or lack thereof. At the same time, when do you start to wonder if Philip Rivers is already as good as he's going to be? He's solid, and has his moments, but too often can let his emotions get to him.
The Chargers are also beat up a bit, and I have no problem saying we may be getting our first shot at them at precisely the right time. With L.T. dinged up, and Rivers still coming back from the knee injury, the Broncos need to tak advantage of the opportunity to put the Chargers 2 games down.
I expect a close game throughout, but the Broncos have too much firepower. Jay Cutler, Mike Shanahan and Co. have the offense rolling, having scored on 13/19(68%) possessions in the pre-season and regular season. With Marshall back in the lineup I don't expect that to change this week. Oh, and did I mention that Mike Shanahan just doesn't lose home openers?? (14-1, 12-1 w/ Denver) Since 1984, the Broncos are the best in football in Home Openers(21-3). They don't plan on losing now.
FINAL PREDICTION: Denver Broncos 31 - San Diego Chargers 24.
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