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Five Keys to the Game
The Chargers return to action Sunday afternoon when they travel to Denver to face the Broncos. There’s a lot on the line as the Bolts look to make a move in the AFC West. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.
1. Is Alexander for Real?-Danario Alexander’s story thus far has been one of the feel good stories not only here in San Diego, but throughout the entire NFL. Signed off the street in mid-October, Alexander has recorded eight catches for 195 yards and one touchdown. Last week vs. the Bucs, he caught five balls for a career-high 134 yards, including a career best 80-yard touchdown catch and run. The Chargers will need him to come through once again as Malcom Floyd figures to have his hands full with All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey. A productive day from Alexander would be a big boost for the offense.
2. Protect Rivers – The Chargers offensive line faces a daunting task this week as Denver leads the league with 31 sacks on the season. Philip Rivers will need time to find his receivers down field, so the line will need to limit the damage done by Von Miller (10.0 sacks), Elvis Dumervil (7.5) and the rest of the Broncos’ pass rushers. Keeping Rivers upright and from scrambling outside of the pocket is imperative for the Chargers.
3. MVP Manning – Since the second half of the last game between these two teams, statistics show that no quarterback has been better than Peyton Manning. He’s put up MVP-caliber numbers during that stretch, completing 100 of 133 passes (75.2%) for 1,206 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three picks. His offensive line has also given him plenty of times to make plays as he’s been sacked just once over that span. The Chargers will need to find a way to pressure Manning and force him into making mistakes.
4. Run Run Run – Hopefully the Chargers will have Ryan Mathews (questionable with a stiff neck) available on Sunday. He’s dominated the Broncos over his career, but whether it’s Mathews, Jackie Battle or Ronnie Brown, the Bolts will need to get their run game going against Denver’s 10th ranked rushing defense. Winning the time of possession battle will keep the ball out of Manning’s hands and increase San Diego’s chances of winning.
5. Keep the Past in the Past – The Chargers allowed (shocked sounds terrible) the Broncos’ 35-straight second-half points to rally from a 24-point halftime deficit the last time these teams met. That game is over. It’s in the past. The Chargers need to keep any thoughts of the last game behind them and stay focused on all 60 minutes of the game they are playing.