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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 17 vs. San Diego Chargers

Ken Pomponio Avatar
January 2, 2016


Keys-to-Victory-Who: Denver Broncos (11-4) vs. San Diego Chargers (4-11)

What: 2015 Week 17

When: 2:25 p.m. MST, Sunday, Jan. 3

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High


Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Broncos -9; O/U 41.5

Notable: The Broncos simply need a win to put the wraps on a fifth-straight AFC West title and a first-round playoff bye. A loss likely would drop the Orange & Blue down into wild-card territory with the likelihood of no postseason home games. … The Chargers, meanwhile, have lost nine of their last 11 games and are in the running for nothing more than a top-five draft pick. They currently would have the No. 3 pick if the season ended a week early. … Denver owns a 61-49-1 lead in the all-time series and have won eight of the last nine meetings – including a 17-3 win in San Diego in Week 13 – but the Bolts have prevailed in four of the last seven games in the Mile High City. … With a win, Gary Kubiak can tie Red Miller’s record for the most regular-season victories (12) by a first-year Broncos coach. … The Chargers are poised for their worst season since 2003 when they finished 4-12.

The Keys

  • Maintain the momentum: Last Monday night, the Broncos flipped the script from recent weeks and outscored the Bengals 17-3 during the second half and overtime to overcome a 14-3 halftime deficit. That massive win, though, won’t mean much if Kubiak’s crew can’t follow up with a home victory over the lowly Chargers. A win would allow the Broncos to rest and heal up – most importantly ailing starting safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart – during wild-card weekend and give them a divisional-round home game for the fourth straight season. Getting over that divisional-round hurdle is another matter entirely, but they first have to get there with a win Sunday.
  • Dominate defensively: The Broncos will basically be assured of a victory if they can even remotely approach their defensive effort from the first meeting a month ago. Wade Phillips’ D allowed only 273 yards, forced three turnovers – with linebacker Danny Trevathan returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown – and sacked Philip Rivers four times. Most impressively, Denver didn’t allow San Diego into the red zone at all. Even holding Rivers and Co. to 20 points or fewer essentially would guarantee a win as the Chargers are 3-30 over the last five seasons when putting up 20 or fewer points, including a 0-9 mark this season. The Chargers have a banged-up offensive line with guard Orlando Franklin out with a concussion and tackle King Dunlap listed as doubtful with an ankle injury, and Derek Wolfe, Von Miller, Malik Jackson and Co. should be primed for a regular-season finale field day.
  • Get C.J. rolling: The week after his best game of the season (113 yards, two TDs vs. the Patriots), C.J. Anderson injured an ankle in the second quarter in San Diego and basically has been limited since. He showed signs of breaking back out again Monday night against Cincy – most notably on his dazzling 39-yard scamper down the sideline in the fourth quarter that gave the Broncos their first lead – and Denver will need a healthy and on-top-of-his-game Anderson come postseason time as he provides the best combination of inside/outside running with tackle-breaking elusiveness.

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