Peyton Manning has a poor record against the Chargers. Image courtesy of Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Across a 16-game season, some matches are just flat out more important than others. This is one of them.
Last season, three teams finished with 8-8 records in the AFC West. The Denver Broncos progressed to the post-season thanks to the tie-breaker system. The San Diego Chargers (and the Oakland Raiders) missed out and started their off-season earlier than they would have liked. Tuesday morning’s (AEST) contest at Qualcomm Stadium is a battle for first place in the division, and if the Chargers win, they’ll go two games ahead of the Broncos, and they’ll also own the first four playoff tie-breakers.
After a disastrous Monday Night Football performance against Atlanta four weeks ago, Peyton Manning has recovered to throw three straight 300-yard games, with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. His main target has been Demaryius Thomas , who caught nine passes for a career-high 180 yards last week, but fumbled for the third game in a row. That has been a big part of the Broncos’ problems this season – turnovers are simply killing them.
Manning will be hoping a change of colours will promote a change in fortunes against the Chargers, one of the few teams he has a poor record against. He has lost five of his last six starts against San Diego. Under Norv Turner, the Chargers are 4-1 against the future Hall of Famer, including two playoff wins.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 9-3 in his career against the Broncos as a starter, but it’s unlikely to be San Diego’s aerial attack that will decide the outcome of this match. The more they can keep the ball out of Manning’s hands, the better, and that will come down to their running game which is expected to be led by Ryan Mathews . An ankle injury kept him off the practice field for most of last week, but he trained Saturday and should be right to go against a Denver defence which allowed 253 yards and 2 TDs on the ground against New England last week.
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