The Chargers defense is lead by veteran pass rushing OLB Shaun Phillips. This isn't the same Chargers defense of past years, but they're still decent. The Chargers rank 26th against the pass and 5th against the run. The Chargers rank 14th in scoring defense. They have given up 102 points in 5 games. That averages out to be 20.4 points per game. The Chargers defense is coming off a disappointing performance against a, at the time 0-4 saints team. The Chargers gave up 370 yards passing a 4 touchdowns to Drew Brees, 53 total rushing yards and 31 points. The Broncos offense looks to put up similar numbers this week.
Now lets take a look at the Chargers starters on defense...
DE's: Vaughn Martin, Corey Liuget
NT: Aubrayo Franklin
OLB: Shaun Phillips, Jarrett Johnson
ILB: Takeo Spikes, Donald Butler
CB's: Quinten Jammer, Antoine Cason
FS: Eric Weddle
SS: Atari Bigby
The Chargers have a talented D-Line full of youth. Vaughn Martin and 1st round pick in 2011 Corey Liuget and veteran Franklin are a tough front 3. All 3 are big, strong athletic linemen that figure to cause issues in the run game. Rookie Kendall Reyes (who was a favorite of mine this past draft) also sees playing time along the D-Line on passing downs. Martin leads the group with 11 tackles and 1 sack. Liuget has 6 and 1 sack and Franklin has 10 tackles at the NT position
The Broncos need a strong performance from this unit again this week. Last week the fast paced Patriots offense gouged the Broncos defense in the rushing department for 200 yards on the ground. DT's Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan need to clog the middle of the line and DE's Elvis Dumervil and rookie Derek Wolfe need to set the edge. Also they need to pressure QB Phillip Rivers. River if given time will find the open man and shred defenses. Dumervil and Wolfe need to get there, rush him, hit him, sack him. DE Dumervil leads the group with 23 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, DT Kevin Vickerson has 18 and a forced fumble, Bannan has 15 tackles and the rookie Wolfe has 14 tackles and 2 sacks.
The Chargers have some good ones at LB. Shaun Phillips is the best of the group. Phillips is tough in the run game, and can and will hit the QB. The Chargers have some veteran experience at LB. ILB Takeo Spikes has been in the NFL for quite a while now, and still plays at a good level. OLB Jarrett Johnson is one of the better run stopping 3-4 OLB's in the game. Third year pro Donald Butler continues to make a name for himself in the NFL and is mans the middle of the defense with the veteran Spikes. Butler leads this unit with 31 total tackles and 1 sack, Takeo Spikes has 24 tackles and 1 forced fumble, Phillips has 16 tackles and 4.5 sacks and Johnson has 13 tackles.
This Broncos linebacking crew needs to step up this weekend. Outside of Von Miller being the best player on the field, everyone else was pretty terrible. The Patriots ran down our throats and picked on Joe Mays all day. The Chargers won't be as potent as New England, but lets not underestimate Rivers and Matthews. Wesley Woodyard leads this unit with 37 tackles and 2 sacks and 1 Int, Von Miller has 23 tackles 5 sacks and 1 forced fumble and Joe Mays has 19 tackles and a half sack. I expect this unit to show up Monday night, lets hope i'm right.
The Chargers secondary isn't the best. They rank 26th against the pass, and with Peyton Manning coming to town, that doesn't bode well for them. Veteran CB Jammer and Cason have to step up if they want to have a chance. Eric Weddle is one of the best safeties in the game today and veteran Bigby is a decent veteran who stop the run. So far this year Jammer has 26 tackles and 1 Int, Cason has 22 tackles and 2 Int's, Weddle has 27 tackles and 2 Ints and Bigby has a team leading 34 tackles. I expect Manning to find success against this unit.
Tom Brady found success last week, mostly targeting Wes Welker who was covered by slot corner Chris Harris. Harris had a rough day, but that's a tough assignment for any corner in the league. This week it doesn't get any easier. Rivers loves to throw the ball around, and go deep with it. Champ Bailey most likely will go up against Malcolm Floyd, and Tracy Porter will be up against Meachem. Floyd is a big guy who uses his body to block out the CB, while Meachem is more of your speedster deep threat. Someone also has to cover Pro-Bowl Tight end Antonio Gates. Mike Adams and Rahim Moore need to do well there. Rivers also likes to target his running backs out of the backfield, so Moore and Adams have to keep an eye on both of them. So far in 2012 Rahim Moore leads the team with 37 tackles, Mike Adams has 34, Tracy Porter has 21 tackles and the only INT of the secondary, and Champ Bailey has 15 tackles.