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San Diego Chargers vs. the Denver Broncos - Offense

The Denver offense really begins with the offensive line. The chief addition was Ryan Clady at left tackle and he has been amazing with just a half sack notched against him all year. Ben Hamilton at left Guard is also good; and an unsung hero of their line is Casey Wiegmann who bottled up the Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins and Jamal Williams mentioned as being Pro Bowl worthy. Considering he was originally back up for Tom Nalen, he has done extremely well.

Cutler is really the pacing item on this offense. When he is on, the Broncos rack up the yards and points. The problem is that turnovers; both by him and receivers have often dug holes too deep for a defense that is thin to begin with. He has put up over 4200 yards passing with 24 passing touchdowns; but he has 16 interceptions to go with them. He has thrown even more that ought to have been picked but were just flat out dropped by secondaries. He has the habit of locking down on his receiver and forcing balls in to Marshall his favorite target. He also sometimes has the appearance that the load of being 'the guy' is too heavy for him in some games. Even so his line on the year is impressive:

Passing Rushing Sacks
G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL
2008 - Jay Cutler 15 87.0 351 567 61.9 4210 280.7 7.4 24 16 55 196 13.1 3.6 2 11 69

Brandon Marshall is the number one wideout and he is excellent. He has had an unfortunate tendency to drop passes which might be related to some severed nerves that occurred in the off season from horseplay. He has the ability to make yards after the catch and absolutely ate up Antonio Cromartie the last time these two offenses met back in September. In addition to the drops he has three lost fumbles that go along with striving for those YAC. I would suspect that Marshall will see a lot more of Jammer and Cromartie will take on Eddie Royal who has made a lot of noise for a rookie receiver and looks like he could make 1,000 yards as well. The Chargers have done better covering over the middle the last three games; but covering Tony Scheffler, Denver's excellent receiving tight end is going to be crucial to containing this offense; in fact it may end up being the key to the game.

Receiving Kickoff Returns Punt Returns
G Rec Yds Y/G AVG Lng TD KR YDS AVG Lng TD PR Yds Avg Lng TD
14 98 1210 86.4 12.3 47 6 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Brandon Marshall

Receiving Kickoff Returns Punt Returns
G Rec Yds Y/G AVG Lng TD KR YDS AVG Lng TD PR Yds Avg Lng TD
14 80 904 64.6 11.3 93 5 23 600 26.1 95 0 0 140 10.0 36 0

Eddie Royal

Football Outsiders ranks this offense at number three; but you have to wonder if their rushing attack is really as potent as it was before the bevy of injuries. The list of Bronco running backs on injured reserve now runs to seven. The main running threat will be Tatum Bell who has been fumble prone. They frequently ran without a running back against Buffalo; I have been wondering if Rivera is going to be tempted into going straight to a nickel defense and dare the Broncos to run if they can. One interesting wrinkle is that the Broncos have picked up fullback Neil Pinnock; he has been inactive so far, but with the additional losses of running backs I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him play on Sunday. The Broncos try a number of screens; but they tend to go for short yardage.

These are two well matched teams with both having a great passing attack coupled with a less than stellar defense. The game could easily come down to turnovers or special teams play. The Chargers would seem to have the edge in field goal kickers with Nate Kaeding as one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL. Prater for the Broncos has a huge leg; but also a disconcerting habit of missing some relatively short ones. Brett Kern the Denver punter has a good net average; but Scifres is terrific at pinning teams behind their twenty. With these two offenses and everything on the line you have to wonder how often the punters will see the field. Both teams have the potential to strike deep on returns with Royal going for the Broncos and Sproles being the man for the Chargers. Both average about 26 yards on kick off returns.