The San Diego Chargers will win their playoff game against the Denver Broncos

Jeff Gross

Each week, we give fans of the San Diego Chargers three reasons that the team will win their upcoming game. This week, the Chargers travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the 2013 NFL Playoffs.

1-0 & 2-0

The San Diego Chargers are 1-0 in the playoffs under Mike McCoy. They are also 1-0 in Denver this season. The Denver Broncos are 0-1 in the playoffs with Peyton Manning. Small sample sizes? Absolutely, but the onus is on the Denver Broncos to do something differently this time around. The Chargers could likely win another playoff game if they played the same game against Denver as they did one month ago.

Since we're talking about records, and specifically Peyton Manning's record.... The Chargers are 2-0 against the older Manning brother in the playoffs, which is an important part of his oft-mentioned 9-11 personal playoff record.

5-0

The San Diego Chargers are 5-0 since the return of Melvin Ingram. I'm not going to pretend that I believe the team would be 16-0 had Ingram never gotten injured, but I am starting to believe that the defense would've been closer to average than worst in the league with him in there. I think he could've helped to prevent the losses to the Titans and the Texans, but the past it the past and we'll leave it there.

My point is that most teams, and their fans, are underestimating the Chargers for two (understandable) reasons:

  1. They know that the Chargers had a terrible defense for most of the season, so they categorize them as still having a terrible defense. The recent upswing in performance is more on the opposing QBs (Matt McGloin, Eli Manning, Chase Daniel, Andy Dalton) than on the defense itself.
  2. That damn Chiefs game, where the Chargers should've lost to the Chiefs backups, has a lot of people convinced that the Chargers aren't even as good as the Chiefs backups.

Call me crazy, but these two points are irrelevant at this point. The Chargers defense is vastly different, and improved, from what it was two months ago and that Chiefs game can probably be called an anomaly by now.

Not only is this a matchup of the #1 offense and #3 offense in the league, but the Broncos had an average defense that is getting worse after the injury to Von Miller and the Chargers had a bad defense that is getting better after the return of Melvin Ingram. These teams are trending in different directions.

8-3

Here's what I wrote the other day:

If I take out games that Dunlap missed due to injury, and games in which he left early due to injury (I'm leaving in the Titans game because he played on 92% of the snaps), the San Diego Chargers are 8-3.

The Chargers formula for winning has become very, very simple:

  1. Win the LOS on the offensive side of the ball
  2. Run the ball a lot
  3. Run the clock

When San Diego's offense is on the field, getting 4+ yards per carry, bad things are not happening. The Chargers' defense is not getting torched, the opposing team is not putting points on the board, and time is running out for any sort of a comeback.

I know I said I'm worried about the health of Ryan Mathews, but Ronnie Brown's long touchdown run last week should've proven to you that the performance of the offensive line is much more important than the talent of the running back behind it.

Even if Nick Hardwick misses this game with a concussion, San Diego showed last week that they can dominate the line of scrimmage with Rich Ohrnberger in his place. As long as they can keep the defensive line on their heels, and they've done a great job of that this season when King Dunlap plays, they stand a great chance of winning the game by keeping Peyton Manning on the sideline.

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