By Dave Thomas
With all due respect to the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the biggest game of the season to date for the San Diego Chargers is Thursday evening in Denver.
After a Week Two win over Seattle (30-21), San Diego (5-2) would go on to win its next four games, a streak that was stopped this past Sunday at home in a 23-20 loss to the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs. While the win over Seattle in that second game of the season was big, the stakes are much higher this week in the Mile High City.
Playing their second game in a stretch of five days (like Denver), the Chargers will look to regain first place in the AFC West. Meantime, Denver (5-1), which rolled past San Francisco 42-17 this past Sunday night, currently sits in the catbird's seat until further notice.
Chargers Need Complete Game
In order to leave Denver victorious this Thursday evening, San Diego will need a complete game on both sides of the ball and along the special teams front.
In their loss to Kansas City (3-3) this past weekend, the Chargers had a number of short falls, most notably in having trouble stopping the Chiefs on third down situations. On the day, Kansas City converted 7-of-14 third down calls.
Meantime, San Diego's running game was back to almost nothing, with the Chargers netting all of 69 yards on the ground for the day, with newcomer Branden Oliver leading the way with 67 yards. In order to have a good shot at leaving Denver with a win, the Bolts will need to manage the clock, which means running the ball, converting some big third down plays, and leaving Peyton Manning with less opportunities to go up and down the field on a defense that has looked a little more suspect the last two weeks in games with Oakland and the Chiefs.
While the sky is certainly not falling in on the Bolts at this point and time, they are also like many other teams dealing with a host of injuries.
Corner Brandon Flowers left the game this past Sunday against his former team (Kansas City) with a concussion, while second-year linebacker Manti Te'o continues to nurse a foot problem.
Winning at Denver is never easy, but getting some of their injured players back, along with putting together a complete 60 minutes of football, would go a long way in giving San Diego a shot at surfacing once again in charge of the AFC West.
Injury Update as of Tuesday's Practice:
Jeremiah Attaochu (outside linebacker) - hamstring - limited practice
Donald Brown (running back) - concussion - did not practice
Kavell Conner (inside linebacker) - ankle - full practice
Brandon Flowers (corner) - concussion - did not practice
D.J. Fluker (tackle) - ankle - full practice
Dwight Freeney (outside linebacker) - non-injury - did not practice
Ryan Mathews (running back) - knee - did not practice
Rich Ohrnberger (center/guard) - back - did not practice
Manti Te'o (inside linebacker) - foot - did not practice
Jason Verrett (corner) - shoulder - limited practice
Steve Williams (corner) - groin - limited practice
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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