The San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos get the NFL's Week 15 kicked off on Thursday Night Football at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Denver comes into the game as the top seed in the AFC with a record of 11-2, having won two games in a row after a tough overtime loss to the New England Patriots in Week 12.
The Chargers are fighting for their playoff lives with a 6-7 record and three games remaining. Heading into Week 15, San Diego sits in eighth place in the AFC, with Miami (7-6) and Baltimore (7-6) a game ahead for the No. 6 seed.
San Diego must obviously approach the game with a sense of urgency, and it appears the team is doing so after linebacker Jarret Johnson called Thursday night's contest a "playoff game":
The Broncos won in San Diego the first time these rivals met in Week 10, and it'll be surprising if the Chargers can win on the road on a short week against the top team in the AFC. Here's what you need to know about the upcoming matchup:
When: Thursday, Dec. 12, at 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
Watch: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 55.5 points
- Spread: Denver (-10.5)
Chargers Injury Report (via Chargers.com)
Broncos Injury Report (via DenverBroncos.com)
Can San Diego's Porous Secondary Somehow Find a Way to Stop Manning?
There aren't many teams in the NFL worse at defending the pass than the Chargers.
Coming into Week 15, they have allowed an average of 266.7 passing yards per game (No. 28) and an average of 8.4 yards per attempt (No. 31).
Manning shredded San Diego's secondary in Week 10, passing for 330 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions, leading the Broncos to a 28-20 road win.
He has become especially hot the past two games, throwing nine touchdowns against Kansas City and Tennessee combined, and he set a new record with his four-touchdown performance in Week 14, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Peyton Manning: 7th game with at least 4 pass TD this season, setting new NFL single season record (per @EliasSports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 9, 2013
ESPN's Jeff Legwold reports Wes Welker isn't likely to play thanks to a nasty concussion suffered last week. However, Denver's other top receivers—Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas—present enough problems, even without the talented slot specialist.
It's not likely San Diego will have any better luck shutting down Denver's elite offensive attack on Thursday night than it did earlier this year, meaning Philip Rivers will need to be on fire for the Chargers to have a chance in this game.
San Diego's offense will keep the team in the game through the first half.
Rookie receiver Keenan Allen is turning into a superstar before our eyes, and Rivers has been playing exceptionally well of late, throwing nine touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last five games.
Who you got?
However, the Chargers simply don't have the firepower to keep up with Manning's constant scoring, and the team's defense doesn't have a chance of stemming the tide.
Denver will improve to 12-2 with a big win at home, while San Diego will slide back to 6-8, effectively putting to rest any lingering hopes for the postseason.
Broncos win, 42-24
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