The Denver Broncos are the best second-place team in the NFL, and that means they can't afford a single slip-up this season, especially against AFC opponents. Though things got closer than Peyton Manning and company would have liked on Sunday, the Broncos beat the Chargers, 28-20, in San Diego to improve to 8-1.
Manning was his usual dominating self, throwing for 330 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, now giving him 33 touchdown passes through nine games. That is tied for the most ever through nine games with Tom Brady's 2007 season, when he threw a record 50 touchdowns.
Manning is on pace to throw for over 58 touchdowns.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is having his own career year, but he was more contained on Sunday. Rivers threw for 218 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the loss, as the Chargers fell to 4-5 on the year. That doesn't take them out of the Wild Card races, however, as the New York Jets still lead the second AFC Wild Card race with just a 5-4 record.
The Broncos keep pace with the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs, but remain in second place for at least one more week.
Fantasy Studs and Duds
Manning, as usual, is a stud. Moreover, he found Demaryius Thomas in the end zone three times. Tight end Julius Thomas had 96 yards and a touchdown of his own. Things were less fun if you started Eric Decker or Wes Welker, both of whom had fewer than 60 yards and no touchdowns.
With the game effectively over, Manning was hobbling around with less than two minutes left. Manning has been dealing with two sore ankles recently, but he did not come out of the game.
Chargers FB Le'Ron McClain, LB Larry English and T King Dunlap all left the game with injuries and did not return.
Did They Cover?
The Broncos were 7-point favorites, per OddsShark.com, so they were able to cover easily on the road.
Chargers at Dolphins, Sunday, Nov. 17, 4:05 p.m. ET
Broncos vs Chiefs, Sunday, Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m. ET