Chargers Look to Remain Atop the AFC West

This is a critical home game for the Chargers tonight. If San Diego can win this game, they will gain a two game lead over their staunchest competitors within the division. But a loss will even the two teams’ records but give the edge to Denver in the head to head match up.

Over the past few years, Philip Rivers and the Chargers have had a lot of success against the Denver Broncos and even more success on Monday Night Football. Rivers is 9-4 against the Broncos and 7-3 on Monday Night Football. The man knows how to play in the bright lights.

Along with Philip Rivers, Ryan Matthews has had a lot of success against the Broncos in his short career. He averages 127 yards and a touchdown against Denver. This game could be an important step in Ryan Matthews returning to the better graces of the Chargers offense. I would expect the Chargers to use a balanced attack tonight knowing how effective Matthews has been against the Broncos.

Keys to the Game: Philip Rivers needs to remain consistent. Rivers has averaged 250 yards passing and an interception each game. If your Norv Turner you take those numbers and run with them. That’s because for every interception Rivers throws, he makes three or four big plays that set up touchdown drives. It is in those games where he turns the ball over multiple times, that his carelessness for ball security becomes an issue. Philip Rivers is a gunslinger, he will throw your team into games and out of them.

Prevent Manning from getting into a rhythm. Peyton Manning has had trouble getting into a rhythm early in games the past several weeks. This has led to the Broncos falling behind early and not allowing them enough time to come back. The Chargers have been lousy at defending those short passes that Manning likes to throw, instead of using the run. To defend against that, San Diego needs to mix up their coverages and put pressure on Manning. The Broncos’ offensive line is not that great, they can be had.

Create turnovers. The Broncos have had some costly turnovers this season. Manning has protected the ball well, but the Chargers’ defense has had a habit of forcing Peyton Manning into interceptions. Also the San Diego defense must remember that Demaryius Thomas has had trouble carrying the football. They can definitely force Thomas to fumble.

Final Analysis: Both teams are coming off a tough loss last week and have a lot to prove tonight. I like the fact that the Chargers are home and that they have always given Denver and Peyton Manning trouble. This game will be close, but the Chargers will pull away late and take a two game advantage in the AFC West. San Diego 31 Denver 20.

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