Game Plan and Matchups to Watch

The Denver Broncos' main priority is simple: Don't get any players hurt. Denver has wrapped up the second seed in the AFC playoffs. But the Broncos also want to stay sharp going into the playoffs. Read about the game plan and key matchups to watch.

GAME PLAN: The Broncos' main priority is simple: Don't get any players hurt. Denver has wrapped up the second seed in the AFC playoffs. But the Broncos also want to stay sharp going into the playoffs.

Denver could prove something to itself and the rest of the league by running effectively against San Diego's 3-4 defense. The 3-4, and especially the Chargers' 3-4, has given Denver problems in the running game.

Defensively, the Broncos would like to stay focused. Getting their young cornerbacks such as Domonique Foxworth and Curome Cox, who is the nickel back, some more experience is important before the playoffs.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

--Broncos C Tom Nalen vs. Chargers NT Jamal Williams. Williams is a huge man in the middle, and the Broncos usually have problems with him. When Williams can get penetration, that disrupts Denver's signature stretch running plays. Nalen is one of the best in the NFL, a tough, nasty center who keys the running attack.

--Broncos S Sam Brandon vs. Chargers TE Antonio Gates. Brandon will get plenty of turns against Gates in the Broncos' big nickel defensive package. Brandon has had a solid season for the Broncos off the bench. He is physical but has good coverage skills. S Nick Ferguson will usually defend Gates when the Broncos are in their base defense.

INJURY IMPACT

--CB Darrent Williams did some drills in practice this week. He could be back from his groin injury for Denver's first playoff game. He said he hopes to increase his workload in practice next week and have a normal week of practice leading up to the playoff opener.

--LB Al Wilson has a broken thumb and won't play this week. Wilson will return for the playoffs, and since he had surgery, the Broncos are hopeful his play won't be affected much.

--RB Mike Anderson said he could play this week, but he will be held out with an ankle injury. Anderson should be back to full speed after Denver's playoff bye.

--DE Courtney Brown has an inflamed knee and a sore shoulder, and the Broncos will hold him out because their regular-season finale doesn't affect their playoff seed. Brown has had a solid season and has been playing through knee pain for a few weeks.

--WR Ashley Lelie won't have to miss any time because of a gash in his right arm that required 14 stitches. Lelie will wear a fitted pad on the arm and said the cut doesn't affect his ability to catch the ball.



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