Several Denver Broncos players are big fans of social media, defensive end Shaun Phillips included. On Friday, Phillips (@ShaunPhillips90 on Instagram) posted a screenshot of a text from his younger son giving three keys to the playoffs for Denver:
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have been eliminated from the playoffs, Phillips Jr.'s third key is pretty accurate (Alex Smith rushed for 57 yards on Saturday and Andrew Luck rushed for 45, but he acknowledged Luck is "kinda fast"). As for the rest of his keys, they seem to be spot-on.
When the Broncos lost to the Chargers 27-20 in December, quarterback Peyton Manning was pressured and rattled throughout the game and the defense failed to force any turnovers. If Denver can (1) protect Manning, (2) force turnovers and protect the ball, and (3) pressure Philip Rivers as J.J. suggests, a win would be within reach.
Slowing down San Diego's rushing attack will also be key, but the younger Phillips sent the text three before Denver's opponent was known. We can only assume that is now his fourth key.
The elder Phillips has been on fire for the Broncos this season. After signing with the Broncos during free agency last offseason, Phillips has stepped up as the team's top pass-rusher, recording 10 sacks in 2013.
With Von Miller missing most of the season due to suspensions and injuries, the Broncos asked Phillips to step up on defense. Thus far, he hasn't disappointed.
The Broncos will host the Chargers—Phillips' former team—in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs on Sunday, January 12 at 2:40 p.m. MT on CBS.