Despite much different paths to the postseason, the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos are very similar teams. Both teams are from the AFC West and have a great quarterback that has carried their respective teams throughout the season.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning shattered multiple passing records in 2013, but playoff success has always been an issue for him. Likewise, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has struggled in the playoffs but during the regular season was arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league behind Manning.
Since the Chargers and Broncos are so similar, the position-by-position matchups are going to be very important. The team that does the best job exploiting matchups is going to emerge victorious on Sunday.
Both teams have lost their best pass-rushers to season-ending injuries and have weak defenses as a result. There is also a lot of familiarity between the two teams that go well beyond just being division rivals.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was the offensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2010-2012, and long-time Chargers Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips and Quentin Jammer joined the Broncos in the offseason. The connections don’t end with the players and coaching; they also extend to the front office.
The Chargers’ first-year general manager Tom Telesco started with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998 as an area scout—the same year Peyton Manning was drafted there. Telesco and Manning basically grew up together in Indianapolis.
Despite the similarity and familiarity of the teams, they are polar opposites when it comes to style. The Chargers like to control the clock to protect their defense, and the Broncos simply think they can outscore any team no matter how bad their defense plays.
The two teams split the season series with the Broncos winning in San Diego and the Chargers winning in Denver. The result of the third game between these two teams is going to be highly dependent on the following matchups.