Five to Watch: Chargers vs. Broncos

If the Chargers want the No. 3 seed, they need to stomp the Denver Broncos. Although the Broncos have no hope of playing past regular season, they are set to retaliate after losing to the Chargers, 41-3, back in week five. Here are five things to watch in Monday's night skirmish.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson: : LT looks make a claim for the rushing crown with a big game on Monday night. He ranks second in the NFL with 1,311 yards, but he is likely to pass first-place Willie Parker, who has 1,316 rushing yards. The opportunity becomes far more feasible since Parker broke his leg in Thursday's game against the St. Louis Rams. This would give LT a second consecutive rushing title.

2. Philip Rivers: When he's on, he's on. Unfortunately the opposite is true as well. Rivers has played inconsistently over the last few months, with single-game yardage totals ranging from 104 against the Indianapolis Colts to 309 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. He's even displayed both extremes in a single game, throwing two interceptions against the Tennessee Titans before leading the team to 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime. One can only anticipate more vigor from Denver's veteran corners Champ Bailey and Dre Bly. This game will test Rivers' aptitude and poise.

3. Antonio Cromartie: After achieving his goal of snatching 10 interceptions in one season--now the blue-ribbon holder in the NFL--Cromartie will challenge the close and highly underrated connection between Broncos QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall. Marshall topped 100 yards in his each of last two games.

4. Shawne Merriman: With questionable status for Monday's game, Merriman is tied for second in the AFC with 11.5 sacks--Mario Williams holds the lead with 13. Last year, Merriman managed 17 sacks in just 12 games. To beat his record from last year and to leapfrog Williams in the sack column, Merriman's needs field time.

"I'm pretty close," said Merriman. "I've been getting hours and hours of rehab." True to the words, he did practice on Thursday on a limited basis.

5. Darren Sproles: Srpoles is coming off quite a week. He rushed for a career-high 122 yards against the Detroit Lions and scored his first two touchdowns from scrimmage in the process. He was also named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl. Sproles' 5'6'' frame carries intense speed and control--he will likely see the field before Michael Turner if LT needs a rest.


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