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Tirico: Rivers vs. Manning Will Decide this Game
Mike Tirico travels the country week after week for ESPN, calling some of the biggest games in the NFL for Monday Night Football. For him, the matchup between the Chargers and Broncos is the biggest one this season to date.
“This is a huge game, especially for the Chargers,” he said. “If you can get up two games in the division through six, and have head-to-head wins over everyone, that’s a tremendous start. If you’re the Chargers, you have to be happy so far. You’re in first place with two division wins. That’s exactly what you want. And it’s not like the teams they’ve lost to are bad teams, even that Saints team, they’re pretty darn good, so you have to feel confident about that. My main question is will the growth of the team continue here along the way. And if you can get this win, that pretty much puts you in the driver’s seat from here on out.”
There are many variables that will play a huge role in deciding the outcome of Monday night’s matchup, but for Tirico, there is one battle that stands out above the rest.
“I’m looking forward to watching this QB matchup between (Philip) Rivers and (Peyton) Manning,” he said. “I mean, that’s as good as it gets. I think that decides the game. Both have put up points very easily this year, and I think this is one of those games where you can’t let a drive go by without scoring, because the other guy is going to drive his team down and score. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that whichever defense gets the timely stops against the quarterback is the team that will come out on top.”
In regards to their defense, Tirico is a fan of what the Bolts have done on that side of the ball, and is interested to see how they develop.
“I like what I’ve seen from the defense so far,” he said. “That outside linebacker position is really stacked. And where there’s depth there’s success. So I’m interested to see how this unit grows over the year because if they continue to grow they could make some noise in the playoffs.”
In fact, the veteran play-by-play caller thinks that if the Chargers make the postseason, they will be a tough out and have a chance to go far.
“You have some really good teams in the AFC in Houston and New England, but I think the Chargers have a chance to get on a roll if they get in the playoffs,” said Tirico. “That’s why this game is so important. To get three wins in the AFC West and have a two game lead, that puts you in the driver’s seat. If you get a win like this, you look great to get into the playoffs. And once you’re there, I trust in Philip Rivers to win playoff games. I think if this defense continues to grow, with the right matchups, they have as good a chance as anybody.”
Tirico called the very first preseason game for the Chargers in which they defeated the Green Bay Packers. He’s kept tabs on the team since then, and notes that he’s been surprised and impressed by the performance of role players.
“I’ve been impressed by the impact some guys have had,” he said. “Like Jackie Battle and Dante Rosario for example. They are role players we didn’t know about, and they have come through in important opportunities when given the chance to get this team a win. And that’s what good teams do.”
Still, it won’t be the role players in Tirico’s eyes that will decide the game. Instead, it is that battle of elite quarterbacks.
“You can go over all the matchups and individual battles that will take place, but in the end, it will come down to which quarterback makes the bigger plays. Is it Rivers? Manning? That will probably decide who wins this game.”