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Broncos Chargers preview: Stopping Philip Rivers is easier said than done

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The Denver Broncos (9-2) are soaring after slaying the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday, but now need to follow it up with a much needed AFC West road win over the San Diego Chargers (3-8).

San Diego Chargers
Sunday, December 6, 2015 - 2:00 PM MDT
Denver Broncos

AVG. YPA (RNK)

TEAM CATEGORY

AVG. YPA (RNK)

7th Pass Off. 23rd
30th Rush Off. 12th
31st Pass Def. 2nd
31st Rush Def. 2nd
3-8 Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 9-2
4th AFC West Spread: Broncos by 4 1st AFC West

This a very important game for the Denver Broncos in their hunt for not only their fifth consecutive AFC West title, but homefield advantage as well. This game against the San Diego Chargers is also relevant in terms of showing us how this team responds to an emotional victory against a powerhouse opponent.

After they dominated the Green Bay Packers, they followed up with a road loss to an inferior Indianapolis Colts team. Of course, that was a different Broncos team. One with Peyton Manning running the offense. Still, Manning isn't the reason the team came out flat against the Colts after the big win over the Packers.

Every single one of the remaining games on the schedule is must win. It's time for them to prove they are the best team in the NFL.

Strength against weakness

Here are some of the bigger match-ups in this week's game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers that we'll need to keep an eye on.

No Fly Zone vs Philip Rivers

The Chargers do almost nothing well this year, except throw the football. Philip Rivers, despite teams knowing the Chargers are one-dimensional, is having a tremendous amount of success throwing the ball. He is down two starting wide receivers, yet finds a way to put up yards and points almost every week.

The key for the Broncos defense is going to be to get consistent pressure on Rivers. The way the Broncos have frustrated Rivers in the past is to generate pressure and get in his face as often as possible. Rivers is prone to the big mistake under those circumstances.

The Broncos defense cannot come out flat like they did against the Colts three weeks ago. Rivers will shred them if they do.

Brock Osweiler vs Chargers pass defense

The Chargers have the worst defense in football, so Osweiler will need to take advantage of this fact. I don't expect him to throw the ball 40+ times like he did to overcome the New England Patriots, but he will need to have another product game where he throws the ball 25-30 times without throwing any interceptions.

Given how awful the Chargers pass defense is, we could see Osweiler's first 300 yard passing game. That would be fun, but the most important stat line will be a zero in the turnover column.

I think Osweiler could easily shred this Chargers pass defense with the weapons the Broncos have, but I think Gary Kubiak will keep the kid gloves on somewhat even after two impressive games to start Osweiler's career. We'll see some key third down pick-ups and maybe a short or two downfield, but for the most part we're going to see a ground and pound approach.

Broncos rushing attack vs Chargers front

The Chargers run defense is putrid, especially in the red zone. This plays right into what the Broncos are going to want to do when they get down inside the twenty. Whether its C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman, the Broncos are going to be carrying the rock into the end zone in San Diego. There won't be any snow this week. but hopefully we'll be seeing some of these on Sunday

If the Broncos can get off to a good start then there is no way they don't run the ball 35+ times in this game to the tune of 200+ yards and multiple touchdowns. If Louis Vasquez misses the game due to his groin injury, then it might actually benefit the run game as it certainly looks like Max Garcia is the real deal in run blocking.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that the Chargers defense is so bad that Rivers is going to have a career-best kind of passing game to beat the elite Broncos defense enough times to keep pace with the Broncos offense that should run roughshod over the porous Chargers defense.

Rivers is a guy that can be frustrated by great defenses and once he breaks, turnovers start flowing. The Broncos defense is the kind of defense that tends to wreck Philip's Sundays. Given that and the fact that Rivers will get zero help from his run game or his entire defensive unit, it should be a fairly impressive beatdown by the Broncos.

That said, I can't help but recall how the Broncos came out and played against the Colts after their epic primetime beatdown of the Green Bay Packers. I really hope they learned from that and have been spending this week preparing instead of celebrating. This is an important division game to win.