Broncos at Chargers Preview

The Chargers are looking for win number ten at home this week. It will be a minor victory as they have been eliminated from playoff contention.

"The game we play Saturday is going to last for six or seven months," says Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. The Chargers can post their second consecutive season of at least 10 wins. Couple 10 victories with the 12 of 2004 and the combined 22 wins would be the Chargers' best two-year mark since 23 victories in 1979-80.

"10-6 sounds a lot better to me than 9-7," says Schottenheimer.

For the Broncos, it's "get ready for the playoffs." With a first-round bye, this is their final game for two weeks. They want to keep sharp, particularly in pass protection. The Chargers will provide that test. They rank fifth in the league in sacks (44), led by rookie linebacker Shawn Merriman (9.0), who was named to the Pro Bowl.

SERIES
  BRONCOS CHARGERS
LEADER 51-39-1  
STREAKS 4 of past 5  
COACHES VS. OPP. Shanahan: 18-6 Schottenheimer: 11-21
LAST WEEK W 22-3 vs. Raiders L 20-7 at Chiefs
LAST GAME 9/18/05: Chargers 17 at Broncos 20. Denver's Jason Elam kicks game-winning 41-yard FG as Broncos score 17 points in 2nd half.
LAST GAME AT SITE 12/5/04: Chargers 20, Broncos 17. San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson rushes for 2 TDs and Chargers' defense records 4 INTs.
BROADCAST CBS (1:30 PM PT): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Bonnie Bernstein (Field reporter) CBS Radio: Joel Meyers, Allen Pinkett, Steve Mason (Field reporter).
STATS
PASSING Plummer: 269-442-3,275-60.9-18-7 Brees: 315-486-3,508-24-15-89.8
RUSHING Anderson: 239-1,014-4.2-12 Tomlinson: 321-1,372-4.3-17 (1C)
RECEIVING R. Smith: 84 (3C)-1,094 (3C)-13.0-6 Gates (TE): 86 (2C)-1,078-12.5-10
OFFENSE 368.3 355.4
TAKE/GIVE +18 (2L) -6
DEFENSE 318.0 313.8
SACKS Ekuban, Pryce, Wilson: 3.0 Merriman (R): 9.0
INTs Bailey: 8 (2C) Jue: 3
PUNTING Sauerbrun: 43.7 Scifres: 43.6
KICKING Elam: 112 (T3C) (40/41 PAT; 24/31 FG) Kaeding: 111 (48/48 PAT; 21/24 FG)

Chargers: Win would eliminate AFC West rival Kansas City from playoff contention. The offense is the NFL's 2nd best on 3rd-down conversion tries: 86-of-194 for 44.3 percent (Indy: 49.7 percent).

Quarterback Drew Brees (64.8 comp. pct.) is on pace to post 3rd-highest mark in single season in club history.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson has two rushing touchdowns in each of the past two games versus Denver.

Wide receiver Keenan McCardell (9) and Antonio Gates (10) can become the first Chargers tandem to each post ten touchdown catches since HOFer Lance Alworth (10) and Gary Garrison (10) in 1968.

Linebacker Randall Godfrey (4) is tied for the NFL lead in defensive fumble recoveries. Rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman will be 4th-youngest player in NFL history to appear in Pro Bowl on Feb. 12: 21 years, 263 days.

Broncos: Club has clinched AFC's No. 2 playoff seed. Head coach Mike Shanahan is 18-6 (.750) in career versus San Diego – his most wins vs. any single opponent.

Quarterback Jake Plummer (18) needs two touchdown passes to join HOFer John Elway as only QBs in club history to post 20 TDs more than once. Plummer (90.6) also can join Elway as only other Denver QB to post passer seasonal rating of 91.0+ in two seasons.

Running back Mike Anderson has a rushing touchdown in eight of past ten games. With 131 yards, Tatum Bell (869) would join Mike Anderson (1,014) as the first team running-back duo since Cleveland's Kevin Mack (1,104) and Earnest Byner (1,002) in 1985 to each post 1,000 yards.

Wide receiver Rod Smith (796) needs four catches to reach 800 for his career and would be the 15th player in league history to reach milestone. Smith (68) needs two touchdowns to be the first Bronco to record 70 in a career.

Defense is ranked No. 3 in the NFL vs. rush (84.8). Cornerback Champ Bailey scored 25-yd INT-TD in week two meeting. Defensive end Courtney Brown has 1.0 sack in each of two career meetings. versus San Diego.


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