Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers: Preview

Nathan Fordyce@natefordyceContributor IIINovember 16, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Think back to Monday Night Football on Oct. 15. The Denver Broncos are trailing the San Diego Chargers 24-0 at halftime. 

All seemed great in southern California, but the Chargers were required to play the next 30 minutes after a dominating first half.

That second half, the Chargers fell completely apart as Peyton Manning and the Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to defeat San Diego 35-24. 

The Broncos improved to 3-3 as the Chargers fell to the same mark, both sitting atop of the AFC West. 

Now fast forward to Sunday's matchup of the two teams, who are headed in completely different directions. 

Philip Rivers and the Chargers have lost two of the three games they've played since that Monday night and have fallen to 4-5 with all sorts of problems surrounding the team.

The Broncos, on the other hand, have not lost since Week 5. Manning has gotten himself in serious talks as becoming a five-time NFL MVP and the defense has improved each week. 

Even when the Broncos looked like they were going to lose to the Cincinnati Bengals, they found a way to win. 

As the Chargers have had to continue to try and find answers as to why the team is struggling, the Broncos haven't had to do that at all. 

The defense has been great for the Broncos. They have slowed down Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints' video game offense. They had some issues with the Bengals, but ultimately prevailed in the fourth quarter. And last week, they straight up dominated Cam Newton and the Panthers.

This is a big game for both teams. It's essentially a must win for the Chargers as they sit two games back of the Broncos in the West.

But it's a big game for the Broncos to continue to show that they are a top team and the improvements continue to build.

It's going to be interesting to see the mindset of Rivers and the Chargers as they come onto the field at Mile High, having that game on Monday night still in the back of their heads and still prevalent in the media.

The Broncos, on the other hand, are thinking forward—thinking that they can get a first-round bye in the playoffs if the rest of the season goes according to plan. And this is one more step for the Broncos.

Prediction: Broncos win 34-24