Reborn Chargers await Broncos

At the start of the season, it looked like the San Diego Chargers were going nowhere. Now, thanks to quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Antonio Gates (in photo) the team has been reborn and it's the Denver Broncos who will have their backs against the wall going into Sunday's game in San Diego.

Thorburn: Surprising Chargers don't lack confidence - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
December 1, 2004 - Before the season started the San Diego Chargers were receiving national attention for two things: 1. Having their draft/future dictated by the Manning family, which informed the team that Eli would not play for San Diego even if it meant sitting out for a season or two. The Chargers selected him anyway with the first overall pick and then made a trade with the New York Giants to acquire Philip Rivers. 2. Having Rivers, the promising rookie quarterback the Chargers were counting on the make fans forget about Ryan Leaf and the fact that they traded the rights to Michael Vick, hold out over a contract dispute during training camp. Four months later, the Chargers — led by a reborn Drew Brees — are the surprise of the NFL with an 8-3 record and a one-game lead over Denver in the AFC West.

San Diego finding way from pretender to contender - Denver Post - Anthony Cottons
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - When running down the list of Super Bowl contenders, one is likely to begin with the 10-1, defending champion New England Patriots, then quickly consider the likes of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. That's understandable, according to San Diego offensive tackle Roman Oben. After all, he admits, the Chargers - who haven't made the playoffs in eight seasons - haven't exactly forced their way into such conversations. Until now.

Pryce improving, but awaits OK to practice - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - The waiting game continues for injured Broncos defensive lineman Trevor Pryce. The four-time Pro Bowl player was examined Tuesday morning by a Southern California doctor. Although Pryce has improved since back surgery Sept. 22 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back, he was not cleared to begin practicing. With five games remaining in the regular season, beginning with Sunday's AFC West showdown in San Diego, Pryce's window of opportunity continues to shrink. Pryce, however, continues to insist he will play this season.

Broncos' fan woes growing old - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - Does anybody in Denver really care if the local NFL team ever wins the Super Bowl again? Broncomania, born in 1960, is beset by the same middle-age malaise as many successful products of the baby boom. "The fans seem content that we won the Super Bowl. They don't seem to have that real desire to really get back to win another one," John Elway, the greatest Bronco who ever lived, said Tuesday. At age 44, Broncomania has gone soft.

Ability to adjust becomes must - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
December 1, 2004 - The past two weeks, the Denver Broncos believed they had finally seen it all come together. During a 34-13 rout of the New Orleans Saints and while building a 10-7 first-half lead against the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos' secondary was all it had hoped it would be when the team broke training camp. "People saw the potential there," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. "They saw what we had and what we could do . . . but we can adjust."

A slam dunk for Chargers - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
December 1, 2004 - The more Antonio Gates kept showing up in NFL highlights this season, the less Kenoy Kennedy could recall about the San Diego Chargers tight end. "I couldn't even remember if he played last year," said Kennedy, the Denver Broncos' strong safety. "I thought he was in college or something." Not exactly. Gates, now the NFL's second-leading pass catcher (69 receptions), was enjoying his rookie season for the Chargers in 2003. He undoubtedly was also getting an education. When you're an NFL rookie playing football for the first time since high school, that's a certainty.

Chargers vs. Broncos: Scouting report - San Diego Union-Tribune
December 1, 2004 - Had they beaten Oakland on Sunday, rather than blowing an 11-point lead in the final 6112 minutes, the Broncos could have all but wrapped up the AFC West by defeating the Chargers this week. Instead, it's Denver that is in danger of virtual elimination, since a loss would put the Broncos two games behind with four games to play. That won't be easy for Broncomaniacs to accept, considering that just five games ago their team was 5-1 and two games ahead of San Diego.

No Room for Error - - Andrew Mason
Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - In one respect, Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders didn't make an immediate difference in the potential outcome of the Broncos' season. "We didn't necessarily put ourselves in a hole," running back Reuben Droughns said. "We still control our own destiny." That is true in regards to winning the AFC West and clinching the club's first home playoff game since Jan. 17, 1999. Even as they sit behind the Chargers in the standings for the first time since Week 14 of the 2002 season -- when Denver was 7-6 and the Chargers 8-5 -- the Broncos can wrest control of first place by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with a win Sunday.

Fantasy Review: Week 12 - - Andrew Mason
Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - Last weekend's running back numbers provided all the evidence one needs of how fantasy stars can form, go supernova and dissolve over the course of a single season. Reuben Droughns went over the 100-yard mark and scored a touchdown; if you're in a league where a fumble doesn't count off too much, it was a solid performance in a fantasy vein. Rod Smith's touchdown was also his fourth in the past five games; both he and Ashley Lelie remain on a 1,000-yard pace.

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