We’ve finally made it.
After two weeks of anxiously waiting, Denver Broncos game day is here and their opponent is the all too familiar San Diego Chargers.
The Broncos and Chargers regularly go to battle twice per season; this year’s special because it’s the first time ever Denver and SD have faced one another in the playoffs.
But the last time San Diego came to the Mile High City, they defeated the Broncos with a remarkable running game and an overwhelming control of time of possession; can they do it again?
If Denver doesn’t tackle or execute to their usual high level, then, yes.
But something seems different this time around; Manning and his Broncos are ready for the run game, ready to run the score up and make the Chargers play catch-up.
Denver front seven versus Chargers running backs. San Diego has three deadly backs in Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Ronny Brown; with a dominant performance, each will have a chance to write their name among the many others in playoff history. Mathews’ 127 yards and a score were a huge reason why the Chargers were able to control the clock and the football in their Week 15 win in Denver and the Broncos defenders know it. The stout men up front – even if it is a makeshift unit of players – needs to be at their best, knifing through blocks to make tackles behind the line or at least stuffing up holes to allow linebackers to lay the wood. Speaking of, Wesley Woodyard will likely need to be an important piece to the puzzle on run defense. That is, if Jack Del Rio plays him over the too slow Paris Lenon.
The Broncos Win If…
They execute at a high level on offense. Look, when the Broncos are at their best, not even the 1985 Bears defense could stop them. Denver has to come out on fire from the first kickoff, and much of that depends on the play of Peyton Manning. He’s got to be sharp today, even if the forecast is calling for winds in the 20 MPH range, hitting his multitude of talented pass-catchers. When he’s at his best, Manning is not only throwing to all the various players, but in a variety of ways. Screens, bubbles, slants and pivots are great, low-risk, short routes. They will move the ball and move the chains, also setting up the deep bomb down the sideline or up the seam. On top of that, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball have to show up on offense, too. Running the rock will be important, not just as a set-up for the pass, but to bring balance. No matter what San Diego does, if Denver can score whenever they have the ball, the Broncos will win and the Chargers won’t be able to keep up.
The Broncos Lose If…
They turn the ball over too many times. As in, more than once. Throwing interceptions will spell doom for Denver, and Manning has been somewhat rusty following bye weeks (9 TD, 6 INT, 1 FUM) in comparison to his jaw-dropping performances all season long. He will lead the team, either to a win or a loss, with his play and be known for it. The pressure is on Peyton – as well as Broncos running backs to hold onto the ball when hit hard – and if they don’t they’ll lose.
What’s At Stake
In the NFL playoffs, it’s win or go home. The Broncos know what’s at stake – the opportunity to play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game – and they’ll make the most of this chance.
Line: Broncos (-9.5)
Money line: Broncos (-420) Chargers (+340)
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