Michael Lombardo: What is the mind-set in the Denver locker room after missing back-to-back chances to lock up the AFC West? Are the Broncos still confident they can win the AFC West or are they in disarray?
Michael John Schon: They're rolling out the typical "We just have to bring our 'A' game; we just have to play like we know we're capable of playing; we know what's at stake" clichés, which under the surface means, "We're fully aware that we've tanked the past three weeks, but we'll do our best to make a show if it and see if we can pull it out -- without Ed Hochuli."
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would probably gauge their confidence level at a six. When you're on the verge of the biggest collapse since 1967, you can't be too confident.
RB Tatum Bell
Kevin C. Cox/Getty
MJS: Less than a month ago he had a flourishing career selling cell phones, and this Sunday he'll be the Broncos' go-to guy on the ground -- life is grand for Tatum Bell, the eighth different Bronco to suit up in the offensive backfield.
I've been around the league for a number of years, but I can't remember a time a team lost seven tailbacks and 16 total players to injured-reserve. Just to be on the safe side, the Broncos signed RBs Cory Boyd, Steve Baylark and Alex Haynes (who?) to the active roster in the past week. If anyone has an idea who these guys are, please let me know.
ML: What are your thoughts on the whole Philip Rivers-Jay Cutler rivalry? Is there a legitimate dislike there? Who is the better quarterback right now?
MJS: Personally, I don't think anybody likes anybody. Cutler's off pouting, flipping of Rivers and a handful of Bolts fans. Rivers is mouthing off on the sidelines and talking smack on national television. Chargers linebacker Matt Wilhelm publicly calls Cutler a punk and a crybaby, which I thought was GREAT -- it actually makes a game between two mediocre teams worth watching.
As far as the better quarterback, it's a toss-up. If you look at the QB rating, it's Rivers hands-down. If you look at total passing yards, Cutler holds the edge. Both have pretty jacked up haircuts and from what I've seen, both have a bit of an attitude when it comes to dealing with the press. My vote goes to Drew Brees.
CB Champ Bailey
MJS: Champ's probably about 70 percent, but I'll tell you, I'd take Champ at 70 percent over almost anyone else in the league right now. He's back to the point where I doubt you'd want to risk going after him with all that's on the line. Although, the idea of Bailey picking off Rivers would sure make a lot of people in Denver happy…win or lose.
ML: Last week, the Chargers offense had its way with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What will the Broncos do defensively to knock San Diego out of its rhythm?
MJS: I think they're secretly hoping Rivers develops a stomach flu. It's no secret the Broncos pass defense is abysmal, but there have been times throughout the season that they been fairly respectable.
What that means going into Sunday is anybody's guess. Certainly, they'll try and bring the heat whenever possible, but the main objective will be to try and shut down the passing game and force LaDainian Tomlinson to beat them on the ground.
ML: What's the scoop on Denver's special teams? Where and why have those units struggled this season?
MJS: Quite honestly, the problem has been developing over the past decade; for all the hype the game is getting between Rivers and Cutler, it might boil down to special teams to actually see who comes out on top.
Broncos kicker Matt Prater is a 50-50 shot inside the 50-yard line and will more than likely be polishing up his resume after Sunday. If Denver can limit San Diego's field position, they've got a better than average shot; if Prater's kicks come up short and Denver has to rely on its defense shutting down Rivers and L.T. on a short field, we'll be headed to the beer stands early.
At this stage, I'm just hoping San Diego still has all the postgame pizzas locked out for the media -- it's part of what makes the trip worthwhile.
Click here to read Part I of this series, where Lombardo talks about QB rivalry, a ripple effect from Week 2 and a defense on the upswing.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.