The Chargers are still holding on to their slim playoff hopes as they head to Denver to take on the Broncos tonight. The short week could have both pluses and minuses for the Chargers as they have less time to prepare due to a flight, but Thursday games have generally been disjointed offensive affairs and this could help the Chargers slow down the high powered Broncos offense. However, this could be counterproductive to the Chargers who themselves rely on their own high powered led by the great Philip Rivers. I expect a highly competitive game as the Chargers need the win for playoff hopes and the Broncos need it to stay ahead of New England for the number 1 seed. Let’s look at the some key aspects.
Stretch the Field
I think this is going to be very important for the Chargers to win as they must score touchdowns to beat the Broncos, something they learned the hard way when they played them a few weeks ago. Field goals do not win against a team that is on pace to set the league scoring record and the Chargers need their athletes like Keenan Allen and Ladarius Green to make some big plays. This will come from getting to them the ball in space, but also from having Philip stretch the field with his arm and test the middling Broncos secondary. I also think that taking some shots down field will be able to loosen up the Broncos D in order to allow Danny Woodhead some room to work underneath and Ryan Mathews to find some running lanes. The season has been on Philip’s shoulders all year and I think he will step up to the plate again tonight. Lets hope the play calling allows for big things to happen.
This was hit or miss the last time they played, getting to Peyton Manning early on before suffering a lull as the Broncos ran up 28 points in quick work. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is in a tough place because Manning gets the ball out quick, neutralizing most 4 man pass rushes, however, if Pagano brings pressure and mans up the Broncos beasts on the outside, he is liable to be roasted because Shareece Wright and Derrick Cox are the worst. Like actually, they might be the worst pair of corners in the league. It will be on Pagano to be creative with his blitz, possibly using Eric Weddle in the blitz game, and the front 5 will have to step up with some quick pressure. Ideally, pressure up the middle will be able to offset a QB setting up quick to throw, so Kendall Reyes, Cam Thomas, and Corey Liuget will need to push the pocket.
The offensive line seems to be at full strength but with the players they have to go against tonight, that might not be enough. And by players I mean player, as in Von Miller, who can wreck an offensive line single handedly. It will be on D.J. Fluker and King Dunlap to keep the pocket clean by forcing Miller to take long paths in his attempt to sack Philip. Last game this was not the case and Miller was able to affect Philip and keep him to a sub par day, something that can’t happen in a place where the Broncos have dropped 50 twice this year. They also need to spring some form of running game to keep the Broncos honest, something that may be tough against the only stout part of the Broncos defense. Ryan Mathews has looked solid in the second half of the year, but a running back is at good as his offensive line, so they run game will be on their shoulders.