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Broncos vs. Chargers: Philip Rivers feeds off negative energy and four other things to know

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Matthew Stanley (@boltfanindenver), longtime Twitter-friend of mine and recent addition to Bolts from the Blue, took the time to answer Five Questions leading up to Thursday's Broncos-Chargers tilt.

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1. The Chargers secondary is banged up. How worried are you about their backups playing tonight?

Worried. Especially if Jason Verrett can't go.  Richard Marshall and Shareece Wright are not on the level of Verrett and Brandon Flowers, and DC John Pagano has not done a good job of game planning to put his weaker players in a position to succeed.  The other thing that hurts them is our lack of pass rush.  Dwight Freeney has been playing way too many snaps for his age with Melvin Ingram on IR (designated to return) and Rookie Jerry Attaochu being hurt.  The one positive here is experience vs Denver.  Both Marshall and Wright got playing time in all 3 games vs Denver last year.  While Marshall gave up more catches, in 3 games vs Denver last year he gave up 13 catches on 15 targets (per profootballfocus.com), Wright gave up more big plays allowing 4 TD's on his 37 targets.

2. What did the Chiefs do to keep Philip Rivers off the field a week ago?

Honestly it was more of our defense keeping Rivers off the field.  As Alex Smith said in his postgame interview, we played them soft.  One of my fellow writers here on BFTB, Kyle Posey, highlighted the fact that Smith is KNOWN to throw short passes and be hesitant and inaccurate throwing deep, yet our corners were constantly lining up 8-12 yards off the LOS allowing for short quick passes.  We also did not blitz very often, despite Smith struggling when we did.  All in all it was more on Pagano and the defense rather than the Chiefs doing something out of the ordinary.

3. The Chargers seem to play the Broncos better in Denver than they do in San Diego lately. Why do you think that is?

I think Rivers feeds off the energy of the crowd regardless of whether it is positive or negative.  The Chargers have had problems for years filling their stadium while Denver is almost a lock to sell out every week.  It also may have to do with timing.  The Chargers, and specifically Rivers, are known to be late season winners that get hot later in the year.  Going back to 2009, every season but 1 these teams have met in San Diego first, then in Denver later in the year (November or later).

4. I hear you'll be at the game tonight. What's the experience like for rival fans? Are we totally belligerent to all of you or just partially belligerent to visiting fans?

I love going to games in Denver.  I usually sit in the famous "South Stands" close to the opposing team's tunnel, which is where the die hard Broncos fans sit and I've never had a problem, however having been in the Army I may have thicker skin than most.  But for the most part, Bronco fans are football smart and passionate.  They don't make it personally when they are talking smack and 95% of the time it's all in good fun.  Plus these two teams trade wins and losses with each other so much that everyone knows its going to be a good game close game.

5. What is your prediction for the game, and (bonus) for the AFC West this year?

With the injuries the Chargers currently have, the way the Broncos defense has been playing, and a gut feeling I am going to predict Broncos take this one 30-23.  I think the AFC West really depends on this game.  The Chargers will (hopefully) be healthier when they play Denver again later this year so I say whoever wins tonight will take the AFC West, the loser will be a wild card playoff team.

Thanks again to Matthew for taking the time!