AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
San Diego Chargers (9-7, 4-4 away) @ Denver Broncos (13-3, 7-1 home) 01/12- 4:40PM EST
Line: DEN -9.0
The San Diego Chargers will travel into the Mile High city on Sunday evening feeling pretty good about themselves after last week’s road win and going against a Broncos team they defeated earlier on the road as well.
The Chargers (10-7) beat Denver 27-20 back on December 12 behind running back Ryan Mathews 127 rushing yards and holding the high-powered offense of the Broncos to their season-low in points. Denver had outscored their opponents by an average of 20.4 points a game winning seven in a row at home before their loss to the Chargers.
Beating them again may prove to a tougher challenge with the Broncos being healthier this time around.
“It’s tough to say you’re confident knowing what you’re going against. You don’t wan to take that the wrong way,” San Diego Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle said.
“….. We have been the underdog all year. We are out to continue to believe in ourselves.”
Denver (12-4) averaged a whopping 37.9 points per game during the season and were held to under 30 points in only three games, but two of those came at the hands of the Chargers… a 28-20 win and 27-20 loss.
“It taught us a lesson,” tight end Jacob Tamme said of last month’s loss. “We did kind of reboot after that and yes, I think we know that we need to play our best ball going forward and that’s what we are planning on doing.”
This Sunday’s game will mark a year since the Broncos lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 38-35 in double overtime, a game that the Ravens had tied with just 31 clicks on the clock.
“You don’t harp on the first time you fell off your bike, but you remember falling off and you know you don’t want to do it again,” tight end Julius Thomas said.
San Diego is hot having won their last four regular-season games and then last week’s wild-card win at Cincinnati, despite Philip Rivers completing 12 of 16 for a season-low 128 with one touchdown and no turnovers, but he will need a better game if they want to leave Denver with a win.
“Going on the road in a playoff game is not going to be easy, regardless of who you’re playing,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said.
The Chargers will try to keep their running game going were last week they ran wild on the Bengals accounting for a season-high 196 yards and are averaging 170.2 yards during their five-game winning streak. San Diego is 10-2 when they run for better than 102 yards a game and are 0-5 when they fail to reach that mark, but their top rushing producer Mathew is questionable for Sunday’s contest after suffering an ankle injury.
As for the Broncos… what more can we say about the year Peyton Manning has had setting an NFL-record for a single-season with 5,477 passing yards and 55 passes for paydirt, and will have his full core of receivers available to target including Wes Walker who’s been out action with a concussion he suffered back on Dec 8 against Tennessee. Walker still finished in the league with 18 receptions in the red zone.
“Wes brings a lot to this offense and we’re excited to have him back,” said teammate Demaryius Thomas, who finished second in the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions.
Manning has lost his last three postseason games to the Chargers and is 4-6 overall, but this is a different Denver team and the oddsmakers have made the home Broncos a big (minus -9.0) point favorite on Sunday, but get the latest odds up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.
Philip Rivers has a 99.1 QB rating and is 6-2 all-time in Denver and will be looking for another week of magic to help his advance.
“They’re a No. 1 seed for a reason. This is a heck of a team and it’s rare to play an opponent three times in a season and being a division opponent, one we know well, they know us well. It’s going to be awesome,” said Rivers.
Do the underdog Chargers have what it takes to win another big game on the road against a healthy Denver Broncos team? Too many weapons I say, prediction… Broncos to advance to next week’s AFC championship game.
Prediction/Pick: Denver Broncos
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter