Denver lost a tough game to New England last week. A Willis McGahee fumble late in the fourth quarter derailed all hopes of a comeback effort and also put the Broncos below .500 on the season.
San Diego surrendered a victory to the Saints Sunday night. New Orleans outplayed them in the fourth quarter, adding to the Chargers' long-standing reputation as a bad second-half team.
Primetime football is always worth watching, and this game is no different.
Let's preview it from top to bottom.
When: Monday, October 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Live Stream: ESPN3
Spread: San Diego (-1.5), Over/Under 49.5, according to covers.com
Broncos Injuries (via ESPN)
LB Keith Brooking, Concussion, Questionable
Chargers Injuries (via ESPN)
K Nate Kaeding, Groin, Questionable
RB Ryan Mathews, Unspecified, Probable
CB Shareece Wright, Unspecified, Questionable
What's At Stake?
Denver has dropped both of its road games this season, but a win in Qualcomm Stadium would erase many of those bad memories.
A Broncos win would put both of these squads at 3-3 on the season, creating a tie at the top of the AFC West.
Both of these squads have playoff aspirations. Every game is huge, and this stretch of the season can make or break a team's postseason dreams.
Fantasy owners can feel safe playing Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas in this one. Playing the Broncos defense isn't a bad idea either.
It's not that the Chargers won't win, but they're a tough team to figure out in fantasy land. Philip Rivers hasn't put up gaudy numbers this season. Malcom Floyd is a solid play, but Champ Bailey will give him problems on the outside.
You'd like to see San Diego exploit Denver's run defense, but Ryan Mathews and Jackie Battle are both risky plays.
Broncos Player to Watch: Demaryius Thomas, WR
Thomas has 30 catches for 513 yards and two touchdowns this season. He's Manning's favorite target, and he's progressing as each week passes.
No one knew what to expect from Thomas this season. He played in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, and the Tim Tebow-led offense for Denver last season made his talent hard to gauge.
So far, he's proven himself very worthy as a top target. His size/speed combination allows him to separate, and he's athletic enough to break free with the ball in his hands.
Thomas is quickly becoming one of the AFC's better receivers and a must-start in fantasy land.
Chargers Player to Watch: Eric Weddle, S
Weddle is a sneaky safety with a playmakers' reputation.
The sixth-year man is third on the team in tackles. He also has two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble.
Ball hawks like Weddle can cause problems for a disorganized offense. Manning will keep his offense focused, but Weddle can change a game with one instinctual read.
He and Manning will play cat and mouse all game.
What They're Saying
He had this to say to CBS Sports reporter Dan McLellan:
I can't say enough about the veteran leadership we have on our team and the way they came back in here today, all business. I think there really is a sense of excitement about playing on Monday night. Playing a divisional opponent [and] an outstanding football team, it's an outstanding opportunity for us.
ESPN reporter Bill Williamson provides this interesting tidbit regarding Peyton Manning's success against the Chargers in his career:
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning has thrown 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in seven games in the regular season. Manning's minus-4 touchdown-interception differential is tied with Cleveland for the worst in his career.
Including two playoffs games (San Diego won both), Manning was 4-5 against the Chargers as a Colt. He is 1-5 in his last six meetings against the Chargers.
Key Matchup: Peyton Manning vs. John Pagano
Pagano runs an extremely aggressive Chargers defense, but he will be tested by Manning's cerebral style of play.
Manning, as mentioned earlier, has struggled against the Chargers in his career. Pagano knows that, being the former linebacker coach, and you can expect him to dial up plenty of pressure Monday night.
Watching Manning at the line of scrimmage is remarkable sometimes. It will be a constant chess match between he and Pagano for four quarters, as the two match wits to see who dictates the tempo of the game.
If Pagano can orchestrate a defense that gets to Manning, San Diego has a great chance of winning. If not, it will be a long night.
Denver will earn its first road win of the season Monday night. The team has struggled to support Manning, but the Broncos' defense matches up well with San Diego's spotty offense.
Expect a close game, but Manning gets it done in the fourth quarter.
Score: Broncos 24, Chargers 17