Positional Analysis

Two of the three teams that sit atop the AFC West square off at Qualcomm at 1 PM PST today. At 7-4 this game will help define a season.

On Offense

The Broncos will surely use a mixture of stunts to throw off the carousel of offensive linemen the Chargers have deployed of late. That means a bigger pass rush against this still young line. How well the Chargers can protect Drew Brees will go a long way in how the game ends. If Brees has time he can manage a game and control the tempo of the game. Speed up his throws and he can still short circuit.

The return of Damion McIntosh is a good thing. Even at less than 100% he is better than Ed Ellis who was manhandled last week vs. Jason Taylor. They need McIntosh to play a good game and free a lane for LaDainian Tomlinson to run.

Tomlinson has had little success against Denver but he is looking to rebound and wants the ball. Tomlinson also should be a bigger factor in the passing game. The Broncos linebacking trio of Ian Gold, Al Wilson and John Mobley was susceptible to outlet passes to the running backs last week against Indianapolis and the Bolts would be wise to key on the over pursuing nature of quick linebacker.

The receivers will also need to make plays as they face a unit much like themselves, short on big plays. Josh Norman, should he return to the field, may line up as a wide receiver. With Curtis Conway out the Chargers need all the weapons they can muster together.

On Defense

Steve Beuerlein will get his second straight start subbing for the injured Brian Griese. He threw an interception deep in Colts' territory last Sunday. The play swung the momentum in Indy's favor. The Chargers have been unable to create pressure which has made life miserable for their defensive backs. If Beuerlein has time he will pick apart a defense, especially with the talent he has at wide receiver.

Clinton Portis scorched the Charges and the defensive line is not staying in their gaps. They may be trying to create pressure on the quarterback and losing the edge they have against the run. Junior Seau should continue to attack but the team needs to send blitzes from various sources in disguised coverage to create more pressure. Right now only Seau comes in, timing the snap count on a blitz.

Donnie Edwards will likely shadow the running backs. He has had a Pro Bowl caliber year thus far and has excelled in coverage.

Receivers Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith will be matched up against rookie Quentin Jammer and Alex Molden as Ryan McNeil misses the game with a broken arm. The Chargers need to stop the attack at the line with bumps. They have been letting too many passes through all year. Davis Sanchez is the nickel back and he will have a tough time containing the speedy rookie Ashley Lelie.

Special Teams

Ronney Jenkins has responded to the benching with some fine performances in the past few weeks. Darren Bennett has also flashed his Pro Bowl punting. Reche Caldwell may get the punt return duties with Tim Dwight recovering from bruised ribs. Jason Elam is still one of the best kickers in the league despite his recent struggles and if it comes down to field goals Denver has the edge.

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