GAME PLAN: The Broncos will be unbalanced, the question is how pass heavy they will be. Denver will probably need some running game if it wants to beat San Diego, but their tailback situation is scary. The Broncos hope to get some yards out of Tatum Bell, Cory Boyd and Alex Haynes, but most of the pressure will fall on quarterback Jay Cutler. He can't afford to make many mistakes.
Denver's defense needs to get a big play or two, something that hasn't happened often this season. They will say their main focus will be on slowing down LaDainian Tomlinson and the run game, but the Chargers have become a passing team. The Broncos' success on defense rests on their ability to get some pressure on Philip Rivers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos special teams coverage units vs. Chargers returner Darren Sproles. The Broncos special teams have slipped late in the season, in part because of the injuries that have decimated the roster. They tried kicking away from Buffalo kickoff returner Terrence McGee last week, and that didn't turn out well. Either the Broncos will try some tricks to keep the ball away from Sproles or will have to cover better than they have. Sproles had a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first meeting.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey vs. Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson. Bailey should be closer to 100 percent after returning to the lineup from a groin injury last week. The Broncos need to win so they have to consider sticking Bailey on Jackson, who is by far San Diego's most dangerous receiver. Jackson has 1,051 yards, no other wideout has more than 412.
INJURY IMPACT: TE Daniel Graham didn't practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. He couldn't say when he would practice this week but said he would play this week.
OT Ryan Clady was held out of practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, but could return to practice as soon as Thursday and should play on Sunday. He played through the injury last week.
CB Josh Bell was limited in practice on Wednesday because of a sprained ankle. If he progresses well this week he should be available this week.
FB Spencer Larsen has a groin injury that has kept him out two weeks. He was limited in practice Wednesday and could be a game-time decision.
LB Niko Koutouvides has a back injury that kept him out of last week's game. He was limited in practice Wednesday, and he will be evaluated through the week.
S Marquand Manuel left Sunday's game with an ankle injury and was limited in practice Wednesday. The Broncos haven't indicated the injury is serious or should keep him out of Sunday's game.
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