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Denver Broncos must continue to mold their playoff identity against San Diego

Ian St. Clair Avatar
December 5, 2015


There’s no question it was the biggest win of the season.

In fact, it’s hard to think of a regular season win as big or good for the Denver Broncos in the last four years as the one over the unbeaten New England Patriots. Perhaps the 24-point come-from-behind win three years ago against, fittingly, the San Diego Chargers.

Yet even that doesn’t compare to the weight of the win over New England.

When you include wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, that’s three quality wins this season (for those keeping track). The last four years, that’s unprecedented since the Broncos couldn’t beat any team with a winning record.

Denver is in uncharted waters with those three wins.

Now don’t drop off against the Chargers, as it did after the win over the Packers. The Broncos had a major two-game letdown against the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs.

Denver has to take what it did and didn’t do well against the Patriots and get even better on Sunday. It will help to play a ninth home game in the beautiful weather of San Diego. Still, the Broncos need to continue to mold their game and get better each week.

The last two weeks, the Denver running game has been phenomenal. That must continue against the Chargers, regardless if it’s C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman who carry the ball. If the Broncos can run the ball that effectively, the offense will continue to click and open the passing game for Brock Osweiler.

The line needs to continue to make strides to get better, especially in pass coverage. What will help in that regard is Osweiler not holding onto the ball so long, but it is just his third start in the NFL.

Demaryius Thomas needs to catch the ball. He’s more resembled another Thomas that Broncos Country is all too familiar with. For DT, it’s simple: He needs to have fun again. As he said this week, he needs to get out of his head and not think so much. With the success Thomas has had against San Diego, he doesn’t have to look far for more motivation.

The Broncos defense must continue to do its thing, even without DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward Sylvester Williams. Pressure Philip Rivers all game long, shut down San Diego’s running game and cover Antonio Gates. The one bugaboo for Denver this year has been covering tight ends. Either put Aqib Talib on Gates and allow him to do what he did against Calvin Johnson, or double him. But the Broncos cannot allow Gates to go off; especially since he’s the Chargers’ lone offensive weapon at this point.

In terms of special teams, just don’t create the bad highlights. It doesn’t matter if good ones are created, just don’t make bad ones.

What helps is this isn’t even a road game for Denver. It’s a home game in gorgeous San Diego in early December. As was the case last year, there will be more Broncos fans this Sunday in Qualcomm Stadium than Chargers fans.

All kidding aside, with five games left in the season, Denver must build off of the win over the Patriots. The AFC West title will belong to the Broncos with two more wins, but if a first-round bye in the playoffs – and even the No. 1 seed – is to be claimed, they cannot lay an egg against San Diego.

Now is the time for Denver to create and mold its playoff identity.

The NFL got a good idea of what the Broncos could look like in the playoffs with big wins over Minnesota, Green Bay and especially New England.

Do it again with the most complete and dominating win of the season over San Diego.

The time is now to create that playoff identity.

Denver must continue the narrative the Broncos created in Week 1.

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