The year is different, but the story is the same. The Denver Broncos are one win away from clinching their fourth consecutive AFC West title, the longest current streak in any division, other than the New England Patriots. Denver is 10-3 and the second seed in the AFC should things hold, but could move into the top spot with a win and a loss by New England. Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers are 8-5 and desperately trying to hold on to a playoff berth.
Denver has been effective once again, but this year the success has taken on a different look. While Peyton Manning remains the focal point of the offense, the team has taken to a solid ground attack behind C.J. Anderson and his 5 yards per carry. Denver is 17th in rushing and fourth in passing, a quasi-balance it failed to show last season.
Defensively, the unit has improved behind general manager John Elway's moves. The Broncos were aggressive in free agency with the signings of T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware, and it paid off. Ware has 10 sacks to go with Von Miller's 13, giving Denver the best pass-rushing duo in the game. Ward is second on the team in tackles with 59, behind only Brandon Marshall and his 109. Overall, the Broncos rank fourth in total defense and 16th in scoring D.
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San Diego has relied heavily on Philip Rivers to bring it to the brink of the postseason. Rivers has been terrific once again this season, throwing for 3,407 yards, 10th best in the NFL. He's thrown for 26 touchdown passes despite being protected by a porous offensive line that has allowed 27 sacks. On the outside, the Chargers have a terrific arsenal of receivers, including Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates. Combined, the trio has accounted for more than 2,100 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The major problem for San Diego has been generating a pass rush. The Chargers have only 19 sacks this season with Corey Liuget leading the way at 3.5. Dwight Freeney was expected to provide help in that department, but he's proving that time waits for nobody, notching just eight tackles and two sacks.
How to Watch
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
When: 4:05 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
For more on the Broncos, head over to Mile High Report.
To keep up with the Chargers, check out Bolts From The Blue.