Chargers/Broncos Preview 2.0:

San Diego continues their amazing run through the playoffs. Following a 27-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chargers head to Mile High Stadium once again to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. While nobody thought San Diego could have made it this far into the Playoffs nor that they can beat the Broncos a second time, they are looking to prove everyone wrong.

The Chargers are riding a five game win streak and are carrying that momentum into Denver where they will lay their season on the line. At one point in the regular season they held a record of 5-7. When you have a record of 5-7 in the NFL you most likely aren’t gonna be able to make the playoffs or even be in the hunt. So much for that idea.

Soon the Chargers would be 7-7 and hunting for a playoff berth that was unlikely to happen. They were still in the race although the odds were against them making the playoffs. Both the Dolphins and the Ravens were 8-6. All they needed to do was get one win and the Chargers would be eliminated from playoff contention.

Week 16 came and neither the Dolphins nor the Ravens could secure a win. As the Chargers beat the Raiders that week, they remained in the hunt for the final AFC playoff spot. Week 17 came around and again neither the Dolphins nor the Ravens could win. Miami lost to the New York Jets 20-7, while the Ravens would lose to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-17. Both teams finished with an 8-8 record. San Diego, who was 8-7 at this point in time, just needed to win one single game and they were in the playoffs. 

They sure did do it the hard way.

The Kansas City Chiefs had clinched a playoff berth and head coach Andy Reid decided that he would rest all but a few of his starters for the playoffs. Kansas City backups versus the hot and rolling San Diego Chargers. Easy win, right?

Think again. Right off the bat the Chiefs scored on a seventeen yard touchdown run by rookie Knile Davis. Keep in mind at this point it wasn’t even two minutes into the game. It was a back and forth battle during the first half. The Chiefs would score followed by a San Diego score.

Surprisingly enough, the Chiefs had a 21-14 half-time lead. During the third quarter San Diego was shut out. At the end of three quarters San Diego trailed 24-14. The Chargers team that had beat Peyton Manning in Denver earlier in the season, were looking like as if a college football team could come in and beat them.

Whatever Mike McCoy told his team at the end of the third quarter must have been beyond inspiring. It looked as if the only solution would be for Abraham Lincoln to rise from the grave and give his Gettysburg Address all over in order for the Chargers to get motivated, which was not gonna happen.

They scored ten unanswered in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 24. The only problem was they left 3:21 left on the game clock. Though it would seem easy to stop back-ups, San Diego had a difficult time doing it all day.

Kansas City drove down the field in no time at all. Once at the San Diego 20 yard line, they began to run time off the clock and with eight seconds remaining called a timeout. Send in Ryan Succop, a reliable kicker, to knock in the field goal and send San Diego home crying.

IT’S NO GOOD! Ryan Succop has missed the 41 yard field goal! However, on the play there was also some rule-breaking. The Chargers had seven men on the right side of the line of scrimmage. The NFL rule book says there can be no more than six players on a side. With that being said, who in the world counts how many men are on one side of the line of scrimmage? Even the refs didn’t bother to look. Had they saw the seven players it would have given K Ryan Succop another chance. This time it would be unlikely he missed it. Luckily for us Chargers fans the refs didn’t see it.

In overtime, San Diego K Nick Novak kicked a 36 yard field goal that won the game and sent the Chargers to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

It was nothing short of a miracle the Chargers got into the playoffs. With their 27-10 Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego made a statement that they deserve to play with the best despite almost losing to a bunch of no-name backups from Kansas City.

Now on to this week’s game:

San Diego has a record of 1-1 against the Broncos this year. While no one thought anyone could beat the Broncos, especially the Chargers, they did it somehow.

“Well, we have been the underdog all year, I have been the underdog my whole life, so it is no different,” is what Eric Weddle said about being the underdogs in the this match up.

That statement is 100% right. No one has expected the Chargers to be here and yet the Chargers keep on chugging along. If there was an award for most underrated team in the NFL it would definitely be the Chargers.

Regardless of all the nay-sayers, the Chargers find themselves 60 minutes away from an AFC Championship game.

Player to Watch: Ronnie Brown will be one of the X-factors in this game. Starting running back Ryan Matthews has been bothered by an ankle injury the past few weeks and after Brown’s performance against the Bengals last week, look for him to get more touches to keep some of the load off of Matthews’ shoulders.

Ronnie Brown had 77 yards on eight carries and one touchdown against the Bengals. He had the clinching 58 yard touchdown run that put San Diego up 27-10.

If Brown, Matthews and Danny Woodhead can get 3-4 yards a carry, than the Chargers offense should be in good shape. Time of possession will be important here and keeping the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands should be San Diego’s #1 priority.

Key to the gameAs mentioned earlier, time of possession will be the key to the game. During San Diego’s Week 15 win, San Diego had the ball 38:49 minutes compared to Denver’s 21:11 minutes with the ball. Look how good it worked out for them.

The Chargers are ranked #1 in the league in T.O.P (Time of Possession) which will give them an advantage.

San Diego has a 9-3 record when they are winning the Time of Possession battle. They are 0-4 when they have lost it.

If the Chargers have the ball the majority of the game, their odds of winning go up dramatically according to their season record.

Injury Update:

– RB Ryan Matthews (ankle, will play)

– C Nick Hardwick (neck/concussion, questionable)

– RT D.J. Fluker (ankle, probable)

– G Jeromey Clary (shoulder, probable)

– WR Eddie Royal (toe, will play)

– FS Eric Weddle (hamstring, will play)

– LT King Dunlap (ankle, will play)

– DE Kendall Reyes (ankle, will play)

Match-up to watch for:

The Chargers pass rush vs. the Broncos offensive line will be a key match-up to the game. While Manning is one of the best passers in the history of the NFL, he is not mobile in the slightest bit. His old age has a major role in that.

If San Diego is able to get some pressure on Manning it would help their cause tremendously. They don’t necessarily need to sack Peyton, just make him rush his decisions and force him out of the pocket. If you don’t get any pressure on Peyton Manning he can sit under his offensive lineman’s protection and make throws no one else in the league can throw while tearing defenses apart.

The return of OLB Melvin Ingram helps the Chargers out tremendously. They also have OLB Jarret Johnson back. Both have seemed to find their groove at the perfect time during the season and both are capable of applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

It’s all up to the defense again. After all, it is the defense that wins championships right? If they play like they did in Week 15, they have a shot at winning and advancing to the AFC Championship. If they play like they did in Week 10, the Chargers can count on their season to end this week.

Food for thought:

-This season Denver has 14 games of 400+ total offensive yards. They only have had two games of under 4oo yards of offense. Both against San Diego.

– If San Diego wins this week, the previous two head coaches of the Chargers will have taken them to the AFC Championship game in their first season as head coach.

Tune in to the game Sunday afternoon @ 4:40 P.M Eastern Time on CBS.

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