This week in the Mile High City, the Denver Broncos will host the division rival Chargers. San Diego (3-1) currently occupies the top spot in the AFC West. after beating the Miami Dolphins 26-16 on Sunday. They haven't exactly been beating anyone significant yet though. So far, the Bolt's have defeated the Vikings, Chiefs and Dolphins, who are a combined 1-11. Meanwhile Denver is 1-3 (tied for last in AFC West) having lost to the defending champs last week. The Broncos losses have come at the hands of Oakland, Tennessee and Green Bay/ Their record? Try 9-3.
Nevertheless, the Chargers have a three-game winning streak going against Denver. The last Broncos win at home was a 39-38 victory early in the 2008 season. You know, the Hochuli game. San Diego has won the AFC West division four out of the last five years, with Kansas City taking the division in 2010.
Weather and Conditions
The game is set for Sunday October 9, at Mile High at 2:15 p.m. MDT. It will be nationally broadcast by CBS. Marv Albert will do the play by play and Rich Gannon will be the color man. Check here for the broadcast coverage map.
The weather forecast for the game currently looks like this:
Slight Chance Rain Showers
For the up-to-the-minute weather conditions for the game, go here.
The Charger Offense is ranked 15th in points (22.8), 7th in Yards (415.8), 6th in Pass Yards (313.8) and 18th in Rushing with 102.0 Yards per game. Their O-Line ranks in the middle of the pack at 15th overall. The Unit has given up 8 Sacks (21st) and 13 Quarterback Hits (5th least). They struggled on 3rd down last Sunday, going 7 for 14 tries, but they have been the best in the league in 3rd downs conversions (58.5 percent, 31 for 53). On 3rd down, they have a conversion rate of 58.5% (31/53) and are (- 4) in Turnovers
They are led by Bronco fans Public Enemy #1, QB Philip Rivers, who seems to have his best days against Denver. He is 5th in the NFL in Passing Yards (1,286) and Yards per game (321.5), 3rd in Completions (68.2%), has 5 TDs, 6 INTs and a Passer Rating of 87.7 (13th).
RB Ryan Mathews continues to prove what a weapon he is out of the backfield: 19 catches for 254 yards. He has 61 carries 288 yds, a 4.7 avg. and 3 touchdowns on the ground. Mike Tolbert is the big back for San Diego. He has 31 carries for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Tolbert is the team receptions leader with 25 catches, 206 yards and 2 scores.
TE Randy McMichael will see more action with Antonio Gates likely down this week. McMichael has 11 catches, 102 yds, a 9.3 avg. and supplies a veteran presence. He had three catches for 25 yards against Miami on Sunday.
WR Vincent Jackson should play against Denver, even though his practice time will be shortened. He has 20 receptions for 374 yards, 3 touchdowns and an impressive 18.7 yards per catch. Malcom Floyd complements Jackson on the other side, but durability is an issue for him. He played a limited role last week with a pair of catches due to a strained groin. He has 9 receptions, 158 yards and a 17.6 avg.
San Diego's Defense is 10th in Points Allowed (21.2), 6th in Yards (297.8), 5th in Pass Defense (196.2) and 21st against the Run, allowing an average of 101.5 yards per game. They are also holding opponents to 43.2% (19/44) on 3rd downs.
Along the Line, DE's Jaques Cesaire and Luis Castillo are out. Cesaire was in the rotation behind rookie LDE Corey Luiget, but they only have 9 Tackles between them. Antonio Garay (18 TKL, 1 SK) plays the Nose Tackle spot in the Chargers 3-4 alignment. Vaughn Martin (12 TKL) anchors the right side of the line.
The Inside Linebackers and leading tacklers are Takeo Spikes (32 TKL, 1 SK, 2 PD) and Donald Butler (28 TKL, 1 SK). On the Outside, Shaun Phillips (15 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 3 PD) and Travis LaBoy (10 TKL) are the starters, but Larry English (5 TKL) is coming off a two-sack game against Miami and Antwan Barnes (3 TKL, 2 SK, 1 FF) are getting some playing time as well.
Rookie CB Marcus Gilchrist (11 TKL,1 INT, 2 PD), filling in for Quentin Jammer (8 TKL), had a big day with an interception and a deflection of a potential touchdown reception last week. The Chargers think he can be something special for them. Quentin has had a Hamstring problem and is expected to play this week, but Gilchrist will see more playing time going forward. Antoine Cason (16 TKL, 4 PD) starts at the RCB spot.
FS Eric Weddle (26 TKL, 2 PD) leads the Chargers with two interceptions. Both have come in the 4th quarter to preserve victories for San Diego. Steve Gregory (12 TKL, 1 PD) and Darrell Stuckey (4 TKL) have stepped up at Strong Safety since the fragile Bob Sanders (12) went on season-ending Injured Reserve for the 4th consecutive year with a knee injury.
The Chargers had one of the worst if not the worst Special Teams Unit last season. In fact, it wouldn't be a reach to say that it lost 2-3 games for San Diego last season. After allowing four blocked punts (and another deflected), 3 kickoff return and one punt return touchdowns in 2010, it was time for a change. Out goes Steve Crosby, who was the NFL ST's Coach of the Year in 2007, and in comes Rich Bisaccia, a former ST's coordinator with the Buccaneers.
Kicker Nick Novak continues to earn his keep as the replacement for Pro Bowler Nate Kaeding. Novak had a career-high four field goals, including a 48-yarder last Sunday. He is 6/6 on Field Goals and continues to reach the end zone on his kickoffs.
Mike Scifres is the Punter. He has made 9 punts for an average of 45.3 yards, with no touchbacks, He has placed 4 inside the 20 and 3 inside the 10-yard line. His longest punt on the year is 54 yards and hid net average is 36.9 yards. He is also the holder and emergency FG Kicker.
The Long Snapper is Mike Windt. He replaced David Binn, a long-time fixture in San Diego.
Bryan Walters has been the primary Punt Returner (8 for a 5.6 avg.), but Patrick Crayton has returned 3 punts for a 7.3 average. The Chargers are still seeking a return game and Richard Goodman (7 Returns for a 22.4 average) has gotten most of the touches.
P Britton Colquitt ranks second in the NFL with a 43.9-yard net punting average (min. 15 punts). His 49.6-yard gross punting average is 5th among players with at least 15 punts. Colquitt’s six punts downed inside the 20-yard line rank 2nd among players averaging at least 48 yards per punt.
K Matt Prater has registered touchbacks on 15-of-18 kickoffs this season and is 1st in the league with an 83.3 touchback percentage.
Denver ranks 1st in the NFL with a punt-return average of 21.9 yards, and is tied for the league lead with one punt-return touchdown.
With his two touchdown receptions at Green Bay, WR Eric Decker brought his season receiving TD total to four, becoming the first Bronco since Rod Smith in 2001 to catch four touchdown passes in the team’s first four games. His 5 total touchdowns (4 receiving, 1 punt return) tie for the most by a non-running back through four games in team history.
This will be the 103rd regular season game between two AFL original teams. The Broncos lead the series 54-47-1. They have 35 home wins amassed.
The last time the Broncos swept the series was in 2005. Since then, they have gone 2-8, with the Chargers sweeping in 2006, 2007,
2009 and 2010.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers has a career record of 4-1 when visiting the Mile High City.
And the last time the Broncos prevailed was nearly 2 years ago. It was a Monday Night on October 19, 2009 in San Diego Chargers. Denver beat the Chargers 34-23.
The line in Vegas has the Chargers favored by 4 points
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Chargers have their bye after the game and they want to enjoy their week off with a victory. Unlike past seasons, they are out to a quick start. Like every other division game, this one will be a tough matchup for Denver. All division contests are "must win" games and the Broncos need to get on track. A win this week would go a long way in turning this team around.