Is this the best defense the Broncos have ever had?
That's such a hard thing for me to say. The Orange Crush was simply amazing and I don't feel any defense in football should be compared to what they did back in the late 70's, let alone our team today. There are rule differences that make the game so very different now from how it was in past decades too that make it hard to truly compare defenses from different eras.
That being said, I think this defense is the most talented defense I've seen suit up in the Orange and Blue in a very very long time. There is no weakness at any level and there is serious depth with them that is rarely seen on NFL teams. Demarcus Ware is out...no big deal. Sylvester Williams goes out early in last week's titanic game...we got this. I could go on but you get the picture. We have the best secondary in the NFL. We have 4 legit starting-talent OLBs who pass rush. We have a front 7 that smothers the run. This defense may not be the greatest, but it is definitely great.
How much better is the offense under Brock Osweiler than under Peyton Manning?
I'd say it is 75% better than what it was with Peyton Manning, but that's not completely just because of the QB. The line is playing better. That is a big reason as well.
The big thing is that Brock isn't turning the ball over. That alone is making the offense work at a much higher level. Add to that that he takes snaps under center for the majority of the time and that gives the run game a big boost in effectiveness. His throws get to the target faster (less opportunities for defenders to catch up to them). Add all of this up, and you get a more effective offense than what we saw when Peyton Manning was playing.
Has Gary Kubiak made a big difference, or is there a belief that John Fox would've had similar success to this point with this same roster?
I think the success from a W-L standpoint would be maybe a little worse than a wash. Our team is very talented and that alone can get you through the regular season if you are a half-way decent coach (which John Fox is).
The big difference I like seeing with Kubiak is the way the players are talked to after the game. They are encouraged for improvement and moving forward. When Fox talked to them, it was more of a "atta-boy...we did good". Kubiak has this team engaged on what is happening and focused on being a part of the team. It is just a different style of coaching that I think will be much more effective in the post season.
Name one Broncos player that Chargers fans may not know but will have a big impact on this game.
Derek Wolfe is the guy I'm going to plug here. Yes, he's been with the team for some time, but he's not been a flashy player that will catch your eye in game. He's a tough, relentless defensive end that is superb against the run. He's (not surprisingly) really showing up this year (contract year) and making a difference since he's gotten back on the field. Against the run, he's going to be involved in stopping your guys. Against the pass, he's the guy blowing up your interior line so that Rivers has to move out more where the OLBs can get to him.
Obligatory score prediction
I keep hoping for a complete game from the team where we play at a high level the whole game. I want to say we'll win big, but San Diego is a division rival and you guys always play us tough even with our recent success in the series. I'll go with Denver 24, San Diego 17