The matchup on Thursday Night Football could be the NFL Game of the Week. The 5-1 Denver Broncos host the 5-2 San Diego Chargers in the first of two meetings between these two AFC West Rivals. The Chargers are coming off a surprising 23-20 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs while the Broncos are coming off a dominating 42-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. A lot of fans are shaking their heads in awe at how well Chargers Quarterback Phillip Rivers is playing this season. Rivers passed for 4,478 yards (5th in the NFL) with 32 Touchdowns (4th in the NFL) and 11 Interceptions (Tied for 17th in the NFL) during the 2013 season, seems like a good year? Yes, but he is having an even better season in 2014. Through 7 games, Rivers already has passed for 1,961 (3rd in the NFL behind Andrew Luck & Matt Ryan), 17 Touchdowns (4th in the NFL behind Manning, Luck & Rodgers), and only 3 Interceptions. He is looking like he wants to take this team farther than just the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. Of the 5 wins that the Chargers have so far this season, I would say that only 1 win was impressive and that was week 2 against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. The other 4 wins have come against the Bills, Jaguars, Jets and Raiders with their 2 losses coming against the Cardinals in week 1 and last week against the Chiefs. Talking to NFL fans, most of them expect them to fall over once they get to the difficult part of their schedule which is at the end of the season when they play the Ravens on the road in week 13, the Patriots at home in week 14, the Broncos at home in week 15 and at the 49ers in week 15. But right now this is easily the Chargers biggest test tonight against the Broncos.
The Denver Broncos come in with an impressive 5-1 record, but most NFL experts and critics thought they would have another great season to perhaps redeem themselves and win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning hasn’t had a career/record breaking season so far but is still Peyton Manning of last season. So far, Manning has passed for 1,848 yards (9th in the NFL), 19 Touchdowns (Tied for most in NFL with Andrew Luck) and 3 Touchdowns. Manning won’t have another record breaking season, but he will continue to be one of if not the best Quarterback in the NFL. With Peyton Manning passing Brett Favre for the most Passing Touchdowns in NFL History with 509 last week against the 49ers, Manning and the high powered Broncos Offense look to tame the Chargers defense that has former Ute Safety Eric Weddle, Dwight Freeney and Brandon Flowers.
My concern for the Broncos is whether or not they can establish a running game. With Montee Ball out with injury and not performing to expectations. The Broncos had to call on backup Ronnie Hillman. Hillman has stepped up to the challenge. So far, Hillman has carried the ball 55 times this season for 240 yards and 2 Touchdowns while Ball has rushed the ball 55 times as well but for only 172 yards. Have the Broncos found their new running back? I think so.
My concern for the Chargers is whether or not they have enough talent on the defensive side of the Football to contain the Broncos passing attack. Because Eric Weddle can’t be in two places at once. If the Chargers want to have any chance of stealing a win on the road at Mile High Stadium, they will need guys like Marcus Gilchrist, Shareece Wright and some of the Linebackers to help contain the passing game against Manning, D. Thomas, J. Thomas and Sanders.
This will be a closer game than most people expect. I think the Broncos get the win tonight at home.
Kickoff is at 6:30pm on CBS and the NFL Network.
By: Trevor Allen