I was thinking to myself recently, wondering what my weekly Chargers Will Lose/Chargers Will Win posts actually were. An attempt to avoid a jinx? A joke to avoid ever being wrong? An actual game preview, but differing from others in some way?
I looked back through some old posts and got a grip on it, I think. These posts are using history to predict what will happen in the game, and showing that history can be skewed any way you want to provide an optimistic or pessimistic point of view.
Then, I went digging through the "history" of Sunday's game and realized that there's really no way to skew it to say that the Chargers will win. Do they stand a chance? Of course. It's a divisional game, anything can happen. However, this isn't like 2013 when the Chargers had one really great advantage (running backs) and were playing an old-ish team that had nothing to play for on a short week.
Peyton Manning vs. AFC West
Since signing with the Denver Broncos before the 2012 season, Peyton Manning is 16-1 against the AFC West opponents. That lone loss was against the Chargers last season, when the Broncos were leading the division over a Chiefs team that was falling apart and two easy games left to finish out their season. They lost because they could lose, and because it was a short week. The Chargers played great, but that game doesn't change the fact that it's very difficult for AFC West teams to beat Peyton Manning.
Lack of (Healthy) Talent
Here was our preseason list of the most valuable Chargers:
- Philip Rivers
- Eric Weddle
- Keenan Allen
- Corey Liuget
- Nick Hardwick
- D.J. Fluker
- Dwight Freeney
- Brandon Flowers
- Ladarius Green
- King Dunlap
Looking back at it, Mike Scifres, Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead should've been high up on it, but still....
#5 is essentially retired. #9 and #4 are "questionable" for the game (as is Mathews). #6 has been terrible all year long.
This team is too injured, and performing at too low of a level, to pull out a win over a force like the Denver Broncos. Brandon Oliver and Tenny Palepoi aren't going to get it done.
The Broncos won with their offense last year. They're winning with their defense this year.
The last time these two teams met, the Broncos sacked Rivers just twice, but they chased him enough around to build a dominating lead. They were up 28-7 halfway through the third quarter and 35-14 with ten minutes left in the fourth.
San Diego's offensive line hasn't gotten much better since then, and Denver's 38 sacks in 13 games tells me that we can expect more of the same havoc being created in the Chargers backfield during this one.
The Chargers beating the Broncos in Denver last season was a high point. An upset that we continue to celebrate. The team overcame great odds to walk away victorious and rode it into a playoff run.
If they won on Sunday, at Qualcomm Stadium, it would be an even bigger upset. The Chargers are not as good as they were last year and the Broncos, as a team, are better than they were last year. In addition, San Diego's weaknesses play into Denver's strengths. That's before we start factoring in how many star players won't be healthy enough to play on Sunday.
I'll be rooting for the Chargers like I always do, and stranger things have happened in the NFL, but history tells me that the Chargers are screwed on this one.
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