Broncos v. Chargers Game Preview

The Denver Broncos face the San Diego Charers on Sunday at INVESCO Field at Mile High. Read our complete game preview.

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San Diego Chargers (1-3) at Denver Broncos (2-2)
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GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 10/7/07

SURFACE: Grass

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

SERIES: 95th meeting. Broncos lead series, 52-41-1. Denver is especially tough at home, where they hold a 34-12-1 edge. Denver's 52 wins against the Chargers are the most they have against any club. The Chargers won in Denver last year, but that might not be a good sign. The team was still in the AFL the last time it won consecutive times in Denver -- 1967-68. The Chargers have won three of the last five meetings overall.

PREDICTION: Broncos 24-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: Denver is having serious issues stopping the run, allowing 5.0 yards per carry and 181.0 points per game. The problems start up the gut, and that's where Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson should concentrate his efforts early on. Denver knows San Diego wants to limit QB Philip Rivers' exposure to CBs Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, especially with no Chargers receivers stepping up, but the Broncos have been powerless to stop the run thus far.

Broncos RB Travis Henry leads the NFL with 433 rushing yards, but he's also trying to recover from a sore ankle and knee. If he's out or limited, the bulk of the load falls to Selvin Young. Moving the ball hasn't been an issue for the Broncos, who rank fifth in total offense. But Denver has scored just seven touchdowns in 14 trips inside the red zone, where QB Jay Cutler needs to be more effective when defenses clamp down against the run.

KEY INJURIES:Chargers: WR Eric Parker (toe) will miss 3-4 more games; WR Craig Davis (ankle), ILB Matt Wilhelm (calf) and DT Jamal Williams (knee) are expected to play. Denver: Henry and WR Javon Walker (knee) will be evaluated as the week goes on; S John Lynch (groin) is practicing and said he will play.

KEY INJURIES: Tomlinson had 291 total yards with seven touchdowns in two meetings last season. ... The Broncos are 17-3 at home against the AFC West since 2001.

PERSONNEL NEWS:
Chargers:

--TE Antonio Gates was ill and sat out Thursday's practice. He should work on Friday.

--ILB Matt Wilhelm will start for the first time since being hurt in Week 2. Wilhelm going into the lineup sends Carlos Polk to the bench. Polk didn't practice (knee) as well Wednesday.

--DT Jamal Williams (knee) didn't work but should play Sunday. Williams is the key to the Chargers' run defense, which needs to shine to take pressure off a shaky secondary.

--WR Craig Davis (ankle) didn't work and we'll see about Sunday. If he can't go, Malcom Floyd would step in. Davis' had a reputation in college as letting less-than-serious injuries derail him.

--CB Antonio Cromartie (ribs) didn't practice and he isn't certain for Sunday. Cromartie has had some issues tackling and having sore ribs won't help that shortcoming.

--RB Michael Turner's touches will primary come in replacing LaDainian Tomlinson. Turner is no longer returning kicks, as he did last year. Darren Sproles has that role this year. --WR Eric Parker (toe) is out. --FB Andrew Pinnock (knee) is out.

Broncos:

--WR Javon Walker has an injured knee and didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. The team's plan is for him to test his injury in practice Friday.

--RB Travis Henry participated in Thursday's walkthrough, according to Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. He did not practice in the afternoon. Henry has a sore knee and ankle, and the Broncos will have a better idea if he can play after he tries to practice Friday.

--FB Paul Smith's neck injury kept him out of practice Thursday. He has a pinched nerve. Smith is a key part of many Broncos special teams units.

--WR Brandon Stokley returned to a full practice Thursday. He was limited Wednesday with a calf injury.

--S John Lynch, who has a groin injury, said he felt well the day after going through a full practice on Wednesday. Unless something unexpected happens, he will play against San Diego.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Chargers:
It's off to Denver as the Chargers try to end a three-game losing streak where they've won but twice since 1995. They also want to snap a bad spell of baffling play which few predicted.

Take wide receiver Vincent Jackson. The Chargers keep waiting for the third-year pro to take the mantle as the team's No. 1 wide out.

But consistency continues to bother him.

Jackson dropped a sure touchdown pass in Sunday's loss against the Chiefs.

"I got distracted just for a second and didn't make the play," said Jackson, who has 16 catches for 231 yards and a score. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson couldn't comprehend such an alibi.

"To be distracted, for me, it's hard for me to believe," he said. "Because at no point throughout a game, during the game, am I distracted. "Whenever I'm out there on the field, my mind is totally out there on the field and where it's supposed to be.

"Maybe we need to have a talk with Vincent Jackson, to see what's going on to make him distracted out there on the football field."

The Broncos, especially in Denver, will need this 1-3 team's full attention.

Broncos:
Despite a slow start this season, the Denver Broncos are still quite wary of San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

Tomlinson has only 262 yards in four games, but the Broncos have plenty of their own problems. They rank 31st in the NFL in run defense.

Denver allowed seven of Tomlinson's record number of touchdowns last season. When Tomlinson got more than 100 yards in the first half of last week's game against the Chiefs, the Broncos saw the Tomlinson of last season.

"In the first half against Kansas City, he looked like he has always looked," Broncos assistant head coach/defense Jim Bates said. "If you give him any creases, he'll take advantage of it. He's the same guy, they just haven't been in sync totally in all their runs."

The Broncos need to tighten up their own problems. Their tackling has been poor all season, which isn't a good sign against Tomlinson. Bates said he is seeing some progress.

"There are subtle improvements, but they're hard to see when you see the end results on Sunday," Bates said.

The Broncos are just hoping to limit Tomlinson's yards on Sunday.

"It's not like you're playing against a C-class runner," Ferguson said. "This is an A-plus runner. He's going to get his yards. You have to be sound and make sure that after he makes his surge, you stop him."



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