The Denver Broncos come off a week where they imploded in the first half with mental errors and penalties to lose to the Baltimore Ravens 34-23. The Broncos surrendered 31 points in the first half and were down by 28 going into halftime. They rebounded in the second half scoring 20 points, but it was too little too late. Todd Heap was able to expose weaknesses in the Broncos coverage of the tight end. The Broncos actually had a shot to make it close but 3 interceptions thrown by Brain Griese, 2 in the second half, ended there day. At the end of the first half, Jason Elam was attempting a 57-yard field goal. Chris McAlister sat back 8 yards deep in the end zone in case it fell short. It did and McAlister took it out of the end zone to return it. The Broncos special teams were asleep and after a crushing block by Ray Lewis, McAlister ran back the kick for a touchdown. The Ravens were also able to block a punt deep in Denver territory, which they quickly turned into another touchdown. The Broncos were able to hold the Ravens to 2.8 yards per carry and if not for the mental errors and mistakes would have won the game.
The Chargers come off an emotionally charged game where they beat the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots 21-14. Led by a hobbled Junior Seau the defense held its ground against a team that was entering the game 1st in the league in points per game. LaDainian Tomlinson ran and ran some more. He ended the day with 217 yards rushing and was able to pick and choose the holes in the Patriots defense to exploit.
Rodney Harrison said it best, "It has only been four games. It's four wins, but now we're really entering the thick of our schedule, our division." They enter week 5 at 4-0 but face the most hostile environment that they have had to play in all season at Invesco. Alex Molden took it a step further adding, "there is no way we are going to look past Denver, because we know that they are a good football team. Plus, it's in the division, so this game counts as two." It is in fact a 2 game swing when division games come into play. At the end of Sunday the Chargers are either 5-0 with a 2 game lead on Denver or they are tied at 4-1. These games set the pace for the rest of the season.
The key to the Chargers defense is getting to and rattling QB Brain Griese. When he is off his game, as evidenced by the Broncos-Ravens game, the game can be won. The Chargers will rely on their steady defense. The Chargers come off a game where they netted zero sacks and they will be looking to not let that happen again.
Keys to a Charger victory
1. Rattle Brian Griese. The tandem of Marcellus Wiley and Raylee Johnson will have to pressure Griese all day. Force him into making bad throws and shut down his timing with blitzes from Seau and Leber.
2. Cover Shannon Sharpe. He is the best tight end in the history of the game. Donnie Edwards will have to blanket him as he has excelled in the last few games in coverage. A future Hall of Famer, Sharpe, caught 9 passes last week.
3. Put the game in Tomlinson's hands. Tomlinson leads the league in rushing with 506 yards. He has been successful so far and there does not seem to be an end to his reign.
4. Stop the multifaceted running game of the Broncos. Clinton Portis is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Mike Anderson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, although he may not play this week as he left the Baltimore game with a sprained ankle. Olandis Gary also is running well. Stopping the run will force Griese to throw, and take away play-action-pass.
5. Test Kenoy Kennedy. Kennedy has been victimized in the past few weeks and Drew Brees must throw the ball his way. Until he proves he can play the pass, and play it well, he is a target.
6. Score early. The Chargers must score early or fall victim to the hostile environment that is Invesco Field. The Denver Broncos are 164-54-1 at home since 1974, best in the NFL since that time.
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