Who: Denver Broncos (11-2) vs. San Diego Chargers (6-7)
Where: Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO
When: Thursday, December 12th at 8:25 PM ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
The Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers kick off Week 15 of the NFL season in an AFC West showdown on Thursday. The Broncos are coming off a decisive victory against the Tennessee Titans, and the Chargers are fresh off a defeat against the New York Giants. These two teams first squared off in November, and the Broncos left Qualcomm stadium with a 28-20 victory. The Broncos enter this game as significant favorites, and movoli brings you the inside scoop from the teams’ respective bloggers.
With the 2014 Super Bowl hosted in New York, the game will undoubtedly be played in cold conditions. With the way the Broncos have dominated over the majority of the season, Denver fans certainly have Super Bowl expectations. However, one of the biggest knocks, or criticisms, of Peyton Manning is his perceived inability to play in cold and windy conditions. Perhaps people maintained this view because he spent his first 13 NFL seasons under a roof in Indianapolis. Brian Shrout (@MHR_BrianShrout) of Mile High Report (@MileHighReport), helped to dispel this myth by taking an in-depth look at Manning’s performances in cold and windy conditions:
“Since his first three seasons, Manning has gone 76-25 (.752) in outdoor games. The cold games have not changed, still standing at 5-3 (.625). The windy games are 16-9 (.640). The cold and windy games are 4-4 (.500). It would seem that Manning improved as he continued to play in those conditions.”
Brian’s detailed and game-by-game analysis, looking at all of Manning’s games in cold (40 degrees or less) and windy (over 10 mph), demonstrates that the conditions have no more impact on Manning’s performance than any other quarterback. Furthermore, the majority of his struggles in these conditions were endured in his first three seasons and he has only improved with age. However, before Broncos fans can look too far ahead, they must first focus on the upcoming game against San Diego to help secure a much needed bye.
With all of the injuries that have mounted, the Broncos certainly could use a week to heal. One of the most noted injuries in week 14 was the loss of wide receiver Wes Welker who suffered a concussion and will miss Thursday’s game. Furthermore, if Denver goes 2-1 and New England 3-0 in the final three games, the Broncos would have to travel to New England for the AFC Championship game. Therefore, the Broncos really control their own destiny and need to focus on winning each of the final three games, starting with the Chargers. Rick Jussel of Predominantly Orange describes the extent of the Broncos’ injuries:
“The Broncos have had a revolving door into and out of the training room over the last month as X-rays and MRIs have become all too frequent. Defensive players Rahim Moore, Kevin Vickerson, Derek Wolfe, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey have all missed significant playing time. Middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard is now being rested on likely rushing plays, replaced with the larger Paris Lenin. At one point Sunday, Denver’s secondary consisted of Chris Harris, Quentin Jammer, David Bruton, Omar Bolden and Kayvon Webster. Say what? Offensive players Julius Thomas, Demaryius Thomas and Orlando Franklin have also missed significant game time, added to the long-gone Ryan Clady. Franklin went down Sunday and was out for a number of series, replaced by Winston Justice. It was probably not coincidental that the Broncos started clicking offensively only when Franklin returned.”
Ultimately, the implications of winning this game are just as important for the Broncos as they are for the Chargers, who are barely holding onto playoff hopes. Although they are still a long shot, San Diego has been put in this position by the strength of play by Philip Rivers. David F. Marver (@ChangeThePadres) of Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) elaborates on Rivers, who he thinks is worthy of much of the attention given to Peyton:
“I’m not complaining about the media focus being on Manning rather than Rivers; it’s understandable given the record pursuits and playoff implications. I just hope that when the two teams take the field on Thursday night, you remember to appreciate the quarterbacks taking snaps for both sides: they’re both elite players having career years simultaneously.
And though these guys may not end up with comparable careers – in some statistical respects they have, but until Philip Rivers is leading the lead in most categories at the age of 37, I’ll hold back the cumulative comparisons – they have been near equals in 2013.”
David explains that despite the far superior weapons that Rivers has at his disposal, both he and Manning have an equal 8.4 yards per attempt and Rivers has a higher completion percentage (70.3% to 67.9%). Despite the strong play of Philip Rivers, the playoffs remain a long shot for the Chargers. Ernie Padaon of Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) gives us the odds:
“Based off of this site called playoffrace.com, the Chargers have a 4.06% chance to make the playoffs at this point…Even after a win against the Broncos on Thursday the Chargers chances go up only 3.75%. We need a ton of help in order to make the playoffs.
There still is hope, but we can only control the games that we play. We have the Broncos on Thursday and we have to hope that the teams that are ahead of us falter. The Miami Dolphins are facing off against the New England Patriots this weekend. The Patriots lost their number 1 receiver this season when Rob Gronkowski went down with an injury. We will have to hope Tom Brady pulls that game off for us. We also have to hope the defending champs falter at home against the Detroit Lions. If they both lose, we still would only be tied with those teams and we don’t hold many tie breakers against these teams. We need a lot of things to go right, but we have seen miracles work in our favor before.”
The lengthy breakdown indicates that not only do the Chargers have to take care of business against arguably the best team in the NFL, they need a lot of help from other teams. Ultimately, given the Broncos’ incentive to win a playoff bye, expect Denver to advance one step further in achieving this goal and eliminate the Chargers from playoff contention in the process.
Peter Stein (@peterWstein) is a regular contributor of NFL, NCAAF, and NBA coverage to the movoli blog.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in movoli blogs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of movoli.
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- Is Philip Rivers having a better season than Peyton Manning? (boltsfromtheblue.com)