Chargers/Broncos Preview:

MANNING RIVER

One Manning down, One to go. Coming off of a blowout win last week against the New York Giants, the Chargers prepare for a game that could make or break their season. San Diego looks to carry the moment from last week’s win into this week, seeking a win against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Despite a slow start to the season San Diego’s hopes of making the playoffs are still alive. It will not be easy though. They currently are battling with the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens for the final spot in the playoffs.

The Ravens (7-6) face a tough remaining schedule. Playing at the Lions, home versus the Patriots and finishing on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Miami (7-6) plays at home against the Patriots, then at the Bills, finishing off the season against the New York Jets at home.

The Broncos have clinched a playoff berth and will most likely finish with the first or second seed in the AFC. Kansas City may very well clinch the 5th seed in the AFC with a 10-3 record thus far.

If the Chargers are able to make the playoffs, it will be well with Mike McCoy in San Diego. If he is able to lead the Chargers to the playoffs his first year at the helm, he could very well stick around for a long time.

It looks as if Philip Rivers will be around for a while too. He’s having a remarkable comeback year despite losing Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd earlier in the year due to injury. Keenan Allen has been a valuable target in his first year and with Malcom Floyd returning next year with possibly Danario Alexander the Chargers offense could be even better.

Recap: During Week 15 San Diego played, arguably, their best all around game of the season.

With a final score of 37-14, the game was nothing less than a landslide. In a blink of an eye the Chargers built a 10-0 lead. By half-time the score was 24-0. Talk about a one sided ball game.

Philip Rivers had another impressive outing, he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns completing 75% of his throws, going 21/28. Two of Rivers three touchdowns went to rookie Keenan Allen, all before half-time.

Allen was targeted three times throughout the course of the game, two of which were touchdowns. After an outing like this, who’s to say that Allen isn’t in the mix for the Rookie of the Year award? At least an Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

During this weeks win Keenan Allen broke San Diego’s rookie receptions record. LaDainian Tomlinson previously held the record with 59 receptions. While playing only twelve games of the season, Keenan has reeled in 61 receptions. With three games remaining in the season, he could end up with 70.

Keenan Allen has 902 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns on the season.

Keenan Allen has 902 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns on the season.

Keenan Allen leads the team in both receiving yards (902) and yards per game (75.2). He is second on the team with five touchdown receptions. He is behind running back Danny Woodhead, who has six receiving touchdowns on the year.

On Sunday against the Giants, Ryan Matthews led the team with 103 rushing yards getting 29 touches. Matthews also ran in for a one yard touchdown putting the Chargers up 31-7 late in the third quarter.

San Diego’s defense was crucial. The defense picked Manning off two times and sacked him two times. They held the Giants to 14 points and played their best defensive game of the entire year.

Eli Manning has yet to beat the San Diego Chargers during his ten year career. Philip Rivers lead the series 3-0.

Player to Watch: Ryan Matthews is having another breakout year. He has 885 rushing yards and four touchdowns through the ground. San Diego being able to establish a running game has been very important to the success of Philip Rivers. Matthews has had a major role in helping Philip have an All-Pro caliber year.

Denver has the ninth worse defense in the league when it comes to stopping the run. If both Matthews and Danny Woodhead can keep the Broncos guessing defensively, then San Diego’s offense could have another breakout game similar to last week.

The Chargers can’t afford to become one dimensional. Denver’s pass rush is just to good to have Philip Rivers sit in the pocket and pass all day. Which is why the Chargers and Mike McCoy have to keep consistently giving Ryan Matthews touches. Let your play-making running back (remembering you drafted him with your twelfth overall pick in 2010) make plays.

Key to the GameThe key to this weeks game is again up to the defense. More specifically directed towards the secondary. In the first meeting between these two teams Peyton Manning completely tore apart the Chargers secondary.

Peyton Manning made it look like a cake walk throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns. San Diego was able to slow him down a little during the second half, however, that wasn’t enough.

Demaryius Thomas made San Diego’s secondary look like they were freshman in high school. Thomas had 108 receiving yards and pulled in three of Manning’s four touchdown passes.

San Diego’s secondary will play a key role in this weeks game. If they make minimal mistakes, than they will be able to keep the Broncos from putting up 50 on them.

Match-up to watch forRichard Marshall vs. Demaryius Thomas should be a very intriguing match-up. This will be the third straight game that Derek Cox (the original starting cornerback) will be benched. Marshall held New York Giants Victor Cruz to five receptions on six targets during Sundays game. Cruz finished with 42 receiving yards while Marshall batted away two passes.

With Broncos receiver Wes Welker officially ruled out, it will put more pressure on Demaryius Thomas to fill his shoes. Welker has been ruled out with a concussion suffered last week against the Titans.

The Chargers linebackers against Julius Thomas will be another key match-up.

Julius Thomas scored on the third play of the game for the Broncos during the first meeting between the two teams. He finished with three catches for ninety-six yards and a touchdown catch.

Not a lot of teams have been able to shut down Julius Thomas which is a big reason why the Broncos offense has had so much success. They can hurt you anywhere on the field offensively.

Injury Update: Although Keenan Allen had a record setting day Sunday, he also went down in the first quarter briefly due to a shoulder injury. Allen has had problems with his knees all through college, luckily this was only a shoulder injury. It was so minor of an injury, Allen went into the locker room and came back out after getting a pain killer shot. Here’s the complete Injury Report:

– WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, probable)

– OT D.J. Fluker (ankle, probable)

– C Nick Hardwick (neck, probable)

– OLB Jarret Johnson (hand, probable)

– DB Johnny Patrick (ankle, questionable)

– WR Eddie Royal (toe, questionable)

– DB Shareece Wright (foot, probable)

San Diego makes their debut tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football. You can watch the game on NFL Network @ 8:25 PM Eastern Time.

Will San Diego pull out the win in Mile High Stadium against the sizzling Broncos? Can the Chargers knock Peyton Manning off his groove and improve their odds of making the playoffs? Who knows? After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

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