Broncos-Chargers: Thoughts on Sunday Play-in Game

Scott GollContributor IDecember 26, 2008

I'm excited for Sunday night's "it should never have come to this" game in San Diego.

Making the playoffs, even if it's only a formality, would be a good achievement for a team that has been absent from the postseason recently. 

Let's be honest, though—there are no realistic expectations that a victory over the Chargers would propel my beloved Broncos on a Giants-like run to the Super Bowl.

This game would serve two purposes:

1) The obvious: Making the playoffs, even at 9-7, means something.

2) Seeing what Jay Cutler can do under pressure on a bigger stage.

Nobody is going to confuse this injury-riddled team, with major defensive problems yet to be resolved, as a top contender. Yet, for a young team with a power-packed offense (even with a half-dozen starting RBs on the shelf) there is a potential to make a little noise in the playoffs—if the offense led by Cutler is at its highest level.

Keeping the opposing team's offense off the field, and minimizing the exposure of Denver's defense to it, could work wonders.  The cliché that "the best offense is a good defense" actually would suit the Broncos in reverse.

First though, they must get past a tough, underrated Chargers team, that is playing much better football than Denver.  A team that still has LT, Philip Rivers, and a defense that can make plays.

For whatever reason, the Broncos have played better on the road this year, under hostile conditions.  The good weather of sunny California can't hurt the passing game of Cutler, that's for sure.

Either way, this has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team all year long.  If the good Broncos can show up two weeks in a row, all will be forgotten—that'll mean an appearance in the playoffs, and a revenge-victory against the Colts in Denver next week. 

By no means is either one of the those scenarios a given, but I think I speak for all Denver fans that it would be worth the trials and tribulations of 2008, to end the year with a little Mile High Magic.

John Elway habitually took undermanned teams to the playoffs early in his career and made the most of what he had. The comparisons of Cutler to Elway are unfair and eventually need to stop.  Yet the evolution of Cutler from good, to great, will be justified largely by what he shows he can do in situations just like the one he's about to face.