Broncos vs Chargers: Keys To Victory

The (5-1) Broncos are hosting the (5-2) Chargers on Thursday Night Football (NFLN). MHH Lead Analyst, Chad Jensen, reports the keys to a Mile High Victory. (Photo courtesy Matthew Emmons/USA Today)

In a matchup that will determine first place in the AFC West moving forward, the Denver Broncos will host the San Diego Chargers tonight at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos are rolling on a 3-game winning streak. The Chargers are coming off of a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Both teams are missing starters and are playing in a short week; a burden that all NFL teams hate, but must carry. Tonight's matchup could be a showcase of offensive firepower as the quarterback of each respective team is playing at a MVP level.

Stop The Run, Force 3rd-And-Long

This is the most important key in stopping Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. They are currently ranked 2nd in the league, converting their 3rd down opportunities at a rate of 51.5%. Lately, the Chargers have been able to execute this feat primarily because of a revitalized running game, led by UDFA running back, Branden Oliver.

Oliver has rushed for more than 300 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last 3 weeks. The Broncos have been one of the NFL's best teams at stopping the run thus far, allowing only 74.3 rushing yards per game on average, good for 2nd in the league. They'll need to continue that trend tonight.

If Rivers is faced with 3rd-and-short, he'll convert. He's one of the best in the league, as showcased by the Chargers whopping conversion rate above. He and tight end, Antonio Gates, have a full-on mind meld going with the TE option routes inside. However, if the Broncos can limit the Chargers rushing attack on 1st and 2nd down, they'll stand a much better chance of success on 3rd down. They are currently allowing 3rd down conversions at a rate of only 37.1%.

Exploit The Chargers Injured Secondary

The Chargers defense will be without their Pro Bowl cornerback, Brandon Flowers, tonight. He suffered a concussion last Sunday vs the Chiefs. They're also likely to be missing rookie cornerback, and 1st round pick, Jason Verrett, who's been nursing a shoulder injury. Here's the most recent info on Verrett.

It doesn't sound good for Verrett. At best, he's highly questionable for tonight. Peyton Manning and the Broncos "Four Horsemen"; Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders, have a great opportunity in facing a depleted Chargers secondary.

To add insult to injury, the Chargers are also missing 3 key members of their front seven, all linebackers. Namely, Manti Te'o, Melvin Ingram, and Jeremiah Attaochu. Even though they have an excellent defensive line, the Broncos should be able to exploit this weakness in the running game.

Ronnie Hillman's path to the second level of the defense, and beyond, is significantly easier this week. Look for the Broncos to run the ball early and often and wear out the Chargers front seven and get the banged up secondary on their heels, and peeking in the backfield. Manning will have a lot of opportunities down-field tonight.

Protect The Ball

The Chargers are going to try to play "keep away" from Manning and the offense, as they did with success 2/3 times they met last season. The Broncos defense is radically different than it was a season ago, which will make it more difficult for Rivers to execute extended drives.

But if they are able to do so, Manning will need every possession he gets. The Broncos can't afford to put the ball on the ground tonight. (I'm looking at you, Ronnie). If they can play smart with the rock, I can see the Broncos running away with this game.

Chad Jensen is the Publisher and Lead Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @CJ_Broncos and on Google+.

Follow MileHighHuddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and discounted Broncos tickets.

Brandon Perna is the Director of Video Content for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonPerna and YouTube.

Next Story:

Are The Chargers A Threat To The Broncos?


Mile High Huddle Top Stories

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John Pagano among those monitoring CB Jason Verrett during workout. Verrett now off field, headed back to locker room.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 23, 2014
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It doesn't sound good for Verrett. At best, he's highly questionable for tonight. Peyton Manning and the Broncos \"Four Horsemen\"; Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders, have a great opportunity in facing a depleted Chargers secondary. \r\n

To add insult to injury, the Chargers are also missing 3 key members of their front seven, all linebackers. Namely, Manti Te'o, Melvin Ingram, and Jeremiah Attaochu. Even though they have an excellent defensive line, the Broncos should be able to exploit this weakness in the running game. \r\n

Ronnie Hillman's path to the second level of the defense, and beyond, is significantly easier this week. Look for the Broncos to run the ball early and often and wear out the Chargers front seven and get the banged up secondary on their heels, and peeking in the backfield. Manning will have a lot of opportunities down-field tonight. \r\n

Protect The Ball

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The Chargers are going to try to play \"keep away\" from Manning and the offense, as they did with success 2/3 times they met last season. The Broncos defense is radically different than it was a season ago, which will make it more difficult for Rivers to execute extended drives. \r\n

But if they are able to do so, Manning will need every possession he gets. The Broncos can't afford to put the ball on the ground tonight. (I'm looking at you, Ronnie). If they can play smart with the rock, I can see the Broncos running away with this game. \r\n

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Chad Jensen is the Publisher and Lead Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @CJ_Broncos and on Google+.\r\n

Follow MileHighHuddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and discounted Broncos tickets.\r\n

Brandon Perna is the Director of Video Content for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonPerna and YouTube.\r\n

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See what Broncos fans are saying here

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Are The Chargers A Threat To The Broncos?
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In a matchup that will determine first place in the AFC West moving forward, the Denver Broncos will host the San Diego Chargers tonight at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos are rolling on a 3-game winning streak. The Chargers are coming off of a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Both teams are missing starters and are playing in a short week; a burden that all NFL teams hate, but must carry. Tonight's matchup could be a showcase of offensive firepower as the quarterback of each respective team is playing at a MVP level.

This is the most important key in stopping Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. They are currently ranked 2nd in the league, converting their 3rd down opportunities at a rate of 51.5%. Lately, the Chargers have been able to execute this feat primarily because of a revitalized running game, led by UDFA running back, Branden Oliver.

Oliver has rushed for more than 300 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last 3 weeks. The Broncos have been one of the NFL's best teams at stopping the run thus far, allowing only 74.3 rushing yards per game on average, good for 2nd in the league. They'll need to continue that trend tonight.

If Rivers is faced with 3rd-and-short, he'll convert. He's one of the best in the league, as showcased by the Chargers whopping conversion rate above. He and tight end, Antonio Gates, have a full-on mind meld going with the TE option routes inside. However, if the Broncos can limit the Chargers rushing attack on 1st and 2nd down, they'll stand a much better chance of success on 3rd down. They are currently allowing 3rd down conversions at a rate of only 37.1%.

The Chargers defense will be without their Pro Bowl cornerback, Brandon Flowers, tonight. He suffered a concussion last Sunday vs the Chiefs. They're also likely to be missing rookie cornerback, and 1st round pick, Jason Verrett, who's been nursing a shoulder injury. Here's the most recent info on Verrett.

Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) on field, working out for head athletic trainer %%MATCH_6%%, strength coach Kent Johnston.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 23, 2014

John Pagano among those monitoring CB Jason Verrett during workout. Verrett now off field, headed back to locker room.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 23, 2014

It doesn't sound good for Verrett. At best, he's highly questionable for tonight. Peyton Manning and the Broncos \"Four Horsemen\"; Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders, have a great opportunity in facing a depleted Chargers secondary.

To add insult to injury, the Chargers are also missing 3 key members of their front seven, all linebackers. Namely, Manti Te'o, Melvin Ingram, and Jeremiah Attaochu. Even though they have an excellent defensive line, the Broncos should be able to exploit this weakness in the running game.

Ronnie Hillman's path to the second level of the defense, and beyond, is significantly easier this week. Look for the Broncos to run the ball early and often and wear out the Chargers front seven and get the banged up secondary on their heels, and peeking in the backfield. Manning will have a lot of opportunities down-field tonight.

The Chargers are going to try to play \"keep away\" from Manning and the offense, as they did with success 2/3 times they met last season. The Broncos defense is radically different than it was a season ago, which will make it more difficult for Rivers to execute extended drives.

But if they are able to do so, Manning will need every possession he gets. The Broncos can't afford to put the ball on the ground tonight. (I'm looking at you, Ronnie). If they can play smart with the rock, I can see the Broncos running away with this game.

[MEDIA:1413771]

See what Broncos fans are saying here

Are The Chargers A Threat To The Broncos? [MEDIA:1409489]

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