By Dave Thomas
Not many people expected the San Diego Chargers to go into Denver on a Thursday night last month and come away with a win. Now, can the Bolts do it all over again?
With their playoff lifeline still ticking after an impressive 27-10 win on the road in the AFC Wild Card round this past Sunday in Cincinnati, the Chargers next head to the Mile High City, earning a third meeting this season with the AFC West rival Broncos Sunday afternoon. As of Monday, the top-seeded Broncos were a nine-point favorite to defeat their old division foes.
While San Diego left Denver on a Thursday evening December 12 with a hard-fought 27-20 victory, this opportunity awaiting them figures to be just as if not even more daunting come Sunday.
Yes, the Broncos could come out of the gates a tad rusty having had this past weekend off. On the other hand, Peyton Manning & Co. may have used that rest to work on their game, along with getting some bodies a bit healthier and more rested.
Teams Split Season Series
San Diego (10-7) and Denver (13-3) split their yearly series, with the Broncos getting the upper hand in the first meeting, a 28-20 victory in San Diego in early November.
In that first meeting, Denver actually won a game that was not as close as the score may have indicated. Manning threw for four touchdowns, staking the Broncos to a 28-6 lead at one point. While San Diego and Philip Rivers did rally to within a touchdown and two-point conversion of tying the game, Denver was the better team on that Sunday afternoon.
In their rematch just over a month later in the Mile High City, the Chargers shocked the Broncos and much of the national viewing audience for that matter. As has been evident in past Broncos losses, keeping Manning and his offensive weapons off the field as much as possible greatly enhances the chances of Denver's opponent coming away with a win.
Manning the Likely MVP
When you look at Denver's stats this season, Manning comes away as a clear-cut favorite for the NFL 2013 MVP award.
To date, the future Hall-of-Famer has thrown for 5,477 yards (115.1 quarterback passer rating) and a staggering 55 touchdowns. Among his top receivers, Manning likes to go to Demaryius Thomas (1,430 receiving yards) and Eric Decker (1,288 yards).
If you think the Broncos are all about passing the ball, think again. Reborn running back Knowshon Moreno has rushed for a career high 1,038 yards and 10 TDs, while Montee Ball has added 559 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Denver has been paced by the likes of former Charger Shaun Phillips (10 sacks) and Danny Trevathan (128 total tackles).
Lastly, when it comes to the all-time series between the two old AFL rivals, Denver holds a 58-49-1 advantage.
It's safe to say, this Sunday's match up will be one that fans of one team will be talking about for some time to come.
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs 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 aExaminer.com.
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