Oh, you think the San Diego Chargers are better than the Denver Broncos because they beat the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle beat the Broncos? How about the fact that the Broncos (fairly easily) defeated the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs?
I think the Seahawks have Manning's number. The way the Chargers used to have his number. Or maybe I should say the way that Stephen Cooper used to have Peyton's number.
Peyton Manning used to play poorly against the San Diego Chargers. Then Stephen Cooper left. Here is what he did in three games against the Chargers last season:
77/113 (68.1%), 849 pass yds, 8 pass TDs, 2 INTs, 3 sacks, 1 fumble lost
Those numbers are probably below what he normally averages, but Manning still picked up about 300 yards, 3 TDs, 1 sack and 1 turnover per game. If he does that in every game forever (which he pretty much does), he's still the best QB in the league.
Now, add in the fact that the Chargers currently have one pass rusher (Dwight Freeney) who is on the downslope of his career and coming off a major injury and has disappeared in the last two games. Also, remember that the Chargers will be without their best CB and possibly their second-best CB as well. Finally, remember that Peyton is playing the best football of his entire career right now.
Rocky Mountain Pass Rush
Von Miller has 8 sacks in six games this year. DeMarcus Ware has 7 sacks in six games this year.
The San Diego Chargers' leader in sacks, after seven games, is Corey Liuget. He has 2.5. Dwight Freeney, who is the team's best pass-rusher, has the second most on the team. He has 2 sacks in seven games. Nobody else on the team has more than 1 sack.
The San Diego offensive line has yielded 11 sacks in seven games this year, 10 of those coming in the last five games. This will be their biggest challenge of the season because it's the best pass-rush they've faced all year. Also, they have not had much time to study them or prepare for them because of the short week.
Let's get away from the terrifying defense that is significantly more talented and healthier than the Chargers defense in every way and get back to the Broncos' terrifying offense that is significantly more talented and healthier than the Chargers offense in every way.
I could talk about the Broncos perfecting screen passes and how bad that will go with the Chargers' inability to tackle or get off of blockers.
I could talk about Richard Marshall trying to cover any of the Broncos numerous Pro Bowl WRs, or I could just point out how great Demaryius Thomas is and how he's going to have a huge game.
Instead, I'm going to talk about Julius Thomas.
Think Antonio Gates is having a great year? He is. Guess which one of these stat lines is his:
27 catches (42 targets), 363 rec yds, 7 rec TDs
28 catches (35 targets), 304 rec yds, 9 rec TDs
The first one is Gates. The second one is Thomas. The difference, besides Thomas being better at catching and catching touchdown passes, is that Thomas has played in six games and Gates has been in seven.
So, obviously, Julius Thomas is good. He's like a freakish mix of Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. He is both uncoverable in short situations and a dangerous threat down the field. He might be the second best wide receiver on the Broncos except he's also a fine blocker this season and is typically covered by a linebacker or a safety.
That brings me to my next point....
The person most likely to cover Julius Thomas tonight is Donald Butler. None of the team's safeties are nearly big enough, and Kavell Conner would be completely out of his depth trying. Butler is the only one with a chance. The problem is that Donald Butler has apparently given up on trying to be a good football player....
If you're wondering which one Butler is, he's the guy in the middle of the frame that seems to be playing the position of Referee. Except he's wearing a Chargers jersey.
This is the man that will be tasked with covering the most dynamic pass-catching tight end in football right now, if not ever.
It is the greatest home field advantage ever in the NFL. Seattle's stadium might be loud and you can't hear each other, but Denver's stadium has oxygen that is literally more difficult to breathe if you don't live in Denver for most of the year (Note: If you think this didn't factor into Peyton signing with Denver, you're nuts). That Chargers defense that has looked gassed against the Raiders in Oakland and the Chiefs in San Diego? Now they get to face a much better team and it will be harder for them to breathe.
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