Peyton Manning set numerous NFL records this season. Image courtesy of Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Exactly 12 months ago, Monday (AEST), Denver was dumped from the playoffs in stunning fashion when eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore silenced the fans at Mile High with a 38-35 double-overtime win in the Rockies. It’s hard to see lightning striking twice, but if there is one underdog capable of a massive upset in this game, surely it’s the upstart San Diego Chargers .
Earlier this season, the Broncos had swept all before them winning their first seven games at home, before the Chargers came to town and knocked off Denver 27-20 . San Diego head coach Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator with the Broncos for four season, including Peyton Manning’s first term in Colorado, and he used his knowledge of his former team to great effect in mid-December. San Diego is also trying to keep alive a bizarre stat; the last four Super Bowl champions have all visited Philadelphia for the Eagles’ home opener. The Chargers beat Philly 33-30 in Chip Kelly’s home debut in Week 2.
It will take a lot more than a coincidence to knock the Broncos off this week, though. They scored 606 points this season, the first team in NFL history to crack that 600-point barrier. Peyton Manning passed for 5,477 yards and a mammoth 55 touchdowns, which are both single season league records. No team in history had four players with double-digit touchdowns; the Broncos had five, led by wideout DeMaryius Thomas with 14. Wes Welker finished with 10 scores, and it’s important to note he missed the loss to the Chargers a few weeks back.
The Chargers overpowered the Bengals last week in atrocious conditions in Cinci scoring a 27-10 upset. QB Philip Rivers threw for just 128 yards but his work was of great quality, and he has his team on a five-game winning streak. The Chargers’ running game has averaged 170 yards per contest in that period; when San Diego runs for 102 or more yards this season, it is 10-2, and winless when it doesn’t hit that mark. To say Chargers back Ryan Mathews will be pivotal in this contest is a massive understatement.
Manning has lost his last three postseason games and is just 4-6 in his last 10 games against San Diego. In contrast, Rivers is 6-2 all-time in the rare air in Denver.
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