Thursday Night Football
The San Diego Chargers (1-4) host the Denver Broncos (4-1) at Qualcomm stadium tonight for Thursday Night Football.
Both teams are injury-riddled, but it’s safe to say that the Chargers are coming in with a much longer injury list when it comes to marquee players being out for this game and/or the season.
San Diego comes into this contest hoping to win its first AFC West game since November of 2014.
The above statement is not an error.
Under head coach Mike McCoy, the team has lost 10 consecutive divisional games, forcing everyone and their dog to call for his firing.
The Week 6 match-up against the Broncos marks the first primetime game for the Chargers in 2016. Both teams will be wearing Color Rush uniforms, adding a little twist to this evening’s festivities.
Quite frankly, I would rather the Bolts get blown out than to watch them give away another late-game lead in the closing minutes. I am not sure if my heart can take watching them flounder another contest in which they should have won. The team should be 5-0 at this point, but here they sit with a record of 1-4 and a last-place designation in the AFC West.
After having quarterback Paxton Lynch start for Denver, the team will turn the reins back over to Trevor Siemian, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Siemian led the team to a 4-0 record prior to being hurt.
As one should have expected, the Bolts placed yet another starter, inside linebacker and special teamer Nick Dzubnar, on season-ending injured-reserve following their Week 5 loss to the Raiders in Oakland.
The defense is very thin at both inside linebacker and in the secondary.
Although we already know that cornerback Brandon Flowers will miss his third straight game due to a concussion, the status of Denzel Perryman is still unknown. Perryman was a limited participant with a shoulder malady this week in practice and is listed as questionable for the game.
Now that I’ve regurgitated a bit of nonsense, let’s get right to it.
You all know the drill with our poll articles: place your vote and then leave a comment — with a score — below stating why you voted the way that you did.
Thanks in advance for voting and commenting on the article.
I hope that all of you who pick the Chargers to win are right, while those realists out there, the ones who know the Bolts won’t win, are wrong.
Dave Booga Peters
( Photo Credit: Jesse Arroyo Jesse Arroyo Photography www.ArroyoPhotos.com )
Every team in the NFL has some terms and idioms that are very specific to their organization; terrible towel, the 12th man, and the red sea to name a few. As a San Diego Charger fan, there are five terms you should know and memorize in order to increase your knowledge of the organization and become an even better fan. Now, some of these have been used since before my time, even when my parents were young football fans. Don’t feel bad if you’re a little behind, because even the players and experts need to know the specific terminology used.
San Diego Super Chargers
If you have ever been to a Charger game at Qualcomm Stadium, you have heard the fight song. If you haven’t been to a game, you need to stop what you’re doing and buy tickets to the next home game. The song was written in 1979 and had an undoubtedly disco sound to it. It was re-written in 1989, excluding the disco flare, and is used at home games after scoring and victories. It’s so popular that I have met various NFL fans that know the words and can recite it. I can hear it now, San Diego Super Chargers, San Diego Super Chargers (very high voice).
Not to be confused with a Crossfit workout called the Murph, but way back before many were even born, Qualcomm Stadium was named Jack Murphy Stadium. Yeah, it really is that old for all you kids born after 1998. The stadium was once named after Jack Murphy, a sportswriter who built the support for the stadium back in 1965. Before he died, Bob Murphy, a former New York Mets broadcaster and brother, still referred to the stadium as Jack Murphy Stadium. To this day, there are still those that call the stadium “The Murph”.
Last year, the Chargers marched into Denver and defeated the Denver Broncos in a Thursday Night Football showdown. After the game, Deion Sanders and company interviewed Philip Rivers. What caught most eyes while watching the post-game show was Rivers’ shiny bolo tie that a fan made for him. Ever since then, the bolo tie has been a symbol of how well Rivers can play in clutch scenarios. It was so popular that you can now buy t-shirts with the logo on it. I haven’t seen this yet, but someone please wear one for the remaining home games.
Have you seen this saying all over the Chargers website or even on tickets? It’s because the Bolts are a family that includes their fans and charging as one is one of the main goals of the organization. When fans gather in the stadium, getting as loud as possible when the other team is on third down is charging as one. Even gathering at a tailgate party or meetup defines this whole concept. Have you seen a team successful without working as one? I haven’t.
This is a term used by a lot of fans, personnel, and experts. Basically, it means get ready and prepare for the Chargers to play some football. It can be used many ways, but if you notice on Facebook or even Twitter people say the term “Bolt Up” in a positive way. Anytime I say it, I’m usually pumped up, heart beating fast, Chargers jersey on, beer in hand, and ready for kick off. Even if you Google search Bolt Up, you won’t find much, but that’s ok it’s a Charger thing.
I guarantee that using these expressions will make you an even better Charger fan. Also, don’t be afraid to express your enthusiasm for Bolt pride. Sure, I might sound silly screaming the Charger fight song in the middle of a Packers bar or referring to “The Murph” while living in Arizona, but I don’t care because I remain a fan; I know you all do too.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As of the beginning of this offseason, there is one phrase/term that stands out to me that could have been included in this article, “Next man up.” Many fans are sick of hearing it, but, the fact of the matter is, it has been exercised and used to the fullest in San Diego.
I am still hurting from the Denver loss like all Charger fans. At no point did I think the Chargers could surprise the Broncos like they did last year who were ripe for a perfect upset. Our boys had everything to play for and Denver had nothing to play for. They whined all week about a short week. The Chargers didn’t have time to care. In the offseason, Tom Telesco did a wonderful job adding key pieces to the defense that on paper would make the Bolt defense better prepared to take on The Denver Mannings.
The reality is one by one almost all of those additions were ruled out for the game. All week long I heard and read Chargers fans say cornerbacks Marshall and Wright could not start and beat Manning. The reality is they did just that December 12th last year on Thursday night football. That defense had a limited returning Melvin Ingram but was essentially the same as the one the Chargers put on the field. The Bolts won that game by seven, and lost this one by fourteen.
Coming off a 35-21 loss, I could blame the Refs for blown calls, the NFL for giving us three division games in 11 days, or Archie and Olivia Manning for not getting Peyton into a different profession. You can complain that the football gods have cursed this team’s medical staff with too much to handle.
You can make an argument for all those valid things to complain about. Honestly, I think the injuries on the defense point to the importance of a man who suits up with the offense. Philip Rivers is playing fantastic, Gates is playing like he is Benjamin Button aging backwards. The offense is clicking . The reality is this week’s 21 points still would have been enough to beat Denver’s effort from last year.
Of course, the Denver Mannings have gotten better since last year, so have the Chargers. But timing is everything and not having a healthy Ryan Mathews made the difference.
I have been shaking my head a lot the last couple weeks listening to local sports radio and reading the message boards proclaiming that Branden Oliver is ready. We don’t need Ryan Mathews, we have number 43, right?
I do think Oliver is a hidden gem. The Chargers scored big time in finding him. He may be the reason Ryan Mathews doesn’t return or takes less money to stay. However, you are out of your mind if you don’t think Ryan Mathews is not the number one missing factor between last year’s result and this week.
The run game this week was pathetic, until the last garbage time run just before the clock went zeros, your rushing leader was Philip Rivers with 17 yards. Take away that 23 yarder at the end of the game, and Oliver barely managed to get double digits. Even if you count that run Oliver was still out gained by Danny Woodhead in last year’s Thursday night game.
That night, Ryan Mathews was the reason the Bolts won and now it is more clear than ever. Mathews had 29 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, the Chargers controlled the ball for 39 minutes of the game. Peyton Manning, being a rhythm QB, only managed the Broncos as they had a 10-3 late in the first period before the Chargers went on several long scoring drives. Manning’s offense gained 13 yards on the 13 plays, over four drives during which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a total of one first down. (With Marshall and Wright on the corners by the way).
Without the power Ryan Mathews brings to the running game the Broncos would not have been held to their season low scoring output. Instead of driving us nuts with his Omahas we got the sideline shots of grumpy Peyton twiddling his thumbs.
Denver’s defense is improved no doubt. Certainly Oliver faced more of a challenge, but I believe at least a half a dozen of those plays where Oliver was stuffed at the line would have 5 or 6 yards for a wrecking ball like Mathews.
Go back and watch a game with Mathews. Charger fans, don’t be prisoner of the moment. Ryan Mathews was the MVP of December last year, and had the Chargers had him this last week, their chances to beat the Mannings would have a lot more likely.
David Agranoff can’t stand Peyton Manning, but loves the Chargers. He is the author of three horror novels you can buy on Amazon if you into that kinda thing. His novels include The Vegan Revolution…With Zombies, Hunting the Moon Tribe and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich. Follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook.
One look at that headline will have even a devout Chargers fan raising an eyebrow, probably both eyebrows. Tonight, San Diego goes to Denver to face a surging Bronco team four days after losing their first game in over a month against Kansas City. The Broncos are coming off a big win in their Sunday Night Football home game against San Francisco. In that game Peyton Manning broke the all-time NFL record for touchdown passes and his toteboard stands at 510 career touchdowns. Denver gets to stay, heal and rest at home while the Chargers go into high altitude to face their nemesis.
So how does this work to San Diego’s advantage?
The 5-1 Broncos are on a high after taking over first place in the AFC West and celebrating Manning’s record at home. Are the Broncos overlooking the Chargers? Definitely not. No matter who the division opponent, it is going to be a difficult game. The Chargers have proven to be the Broncos toughest opponent in the division. How quickly can the Broncos shift from the euphoria of their last game and get back into the proper state of mind to face the wounded Bolts?
San Diego narrowly lost at home against Kansas City in what was easily their worst played game of the season. They could not stay on the field as the plodding Kansas City offense dominated time of the possession. On top of that, the injuries continued to mount. Denver is definitely a game where you want to have all hands on deck to give yourself a puncher’s chance of winning.
The Chargers find themselves hamstrung in the one area you definitely don’t want to be hamstrung when facing Peyton Manning; in the secondary. Cornerback Brandon Flowers, signed by the Chargers in the offseason, has excelled as a starter in the secondary. Flowers left the Chief game with a concussion after a violent hit on Jamaal Charles as the ball carrier crossed the goal line for a score. According to the analytics based site Pro Football Focus, Flowers is the best cornerback in the league. He has been ruled out for the game. Rookie cornerback Jason Verrett is rated second. Verrett (shoulder) is ruled questionable for Thursday, as is cornerback Steve Williams. Williams is the Chargers 2013 fifth round draft pick who missed all of last season. Williams has also performed admirably in his first on the field work.
Combined with those injuries is the instability on the defensive unit with Te’o ruled out and his replacement Kavell Conner, also among the walking wounded but at least scheduled to play. Rookie Jeremiah Attaochu has added some bite to the pass rush alongside Dwight Freeney, but Attaochu is fighting a hamstring issue and Freeney is playing but hampered with a knee injury. The key to beating Peyton Manning is getting pressure on him. If the key components are not able to play, the Chargers chances of pulling out a road victory seem bleak at best.
Therein lies the rub, as they say.
The Broncos are fully aware of the Chargers injury woes. Peyton Manning is licking his chops knowing he will be facing a depleted San Diego secondary. We all know Peyton will not take the game for granted. But what about his teammates? His coaches? If there is such a thing as a good time to take advantage of the Broncos, it is now when they don’t have a full week to prepare. We all saw what happened when the Chargers found themselves in the same position last season. The Bolts went on the road and faced the Broncos on Thursday night and won 27-20. Denver was 12-2 at the time and had won five of their last six games.
Our team is not without advantages of their own. No team has been more successful slowing down the high-octane offense of the Broncos than the team from Ameica’s finest city. San Diego implemented an often imitated ball control offense based on a balanced run game and short passing game to chew up clock and leave Manning where he can do the least damage – on the bench. Aside from the Super Bowl, the three games the Broncos scored their lowest amount of points (regular season and playoffs) were their three games against the Chargers.
Let’s not discount the gunslinger on the other side of the field. Philip Rivers has been, for all intents and purposes, Manning’s equal this season. Rivers is the third highest rated quarterback in the league, while Manning is ninth. At the moment, Rivers is ahead of Manning in passing yards but the Broncos have had their bye week already. For all the fanfare Manning gets, he’s only thrown two more touchdown passes than Rivers (19 to 17) and both have only thrown three interceptions all season.
The Broncos feature elite pass rushers in DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Additionally, they have a strong secondary featuring Aqib Talib, TJ Ward and Chris Harris Jr. With the instability that has been the Charger offensive line, this would seem to be a huge advantage. Rivers doesn’t get the respect Manning does when it comes to blitzing. Defenses know not to blitz Manning. Rivers is one of the most blitzed quarterbacks in the league. The Arizona Cardinals blitzed Rivers on 57% of the plays in their Monday Night Football season opener. Seattle blitzed Rivers over 50% of the time.
Rivers loves blitzes. Despite a shaky offensive line, Rivers has only been sacked 11 times in seven games. No quarterback has more touchdown passes on third down (an obvious blitzing down) than Philip. He has shown an uncanny ability to elude the rush and deliver strikes down the field. Blitzing puts pressure on the quarterback, but the downside is it also opens up the middle of the field where those linebackers and defensive ends were. Who is roaming the middle of the field for the Chargers? An elite tight end who is third in the league in touchdown receptions behind the Broncos Julius Thomas, Antonio Gates. (Thomas 9, Gates 7). Blitzing could very well work against the Broncos if the San Diego tackles can hold them at bay long enough for Rivers to get the ball off.
While the running game has been hit with a wrecking ball, out of the rubble has emerged Branden Oliver. In only three games, Oliver leads all rookie running backs in rushing yards and he’s helped stabilize the running attack. The running game will also open up play action down the field where Rivers has his strongest stable of receivers in years all excelling and, more importantly, all healthy. The Broncos second ranked defense is a huge step up in degree of difficulty. But, remember at the time the Jets were one of the top rushing defenses in the NFL when Oliver was pressed into duty? He ran over, around and through them to the tune of 182 yards from scrimmage (114 rushing, 68 receiving one touchdown).
The Broncos find themselves in a similar position in the running game. The season opening starter, Monte Ball, is out and the running game has fallen into the hands of former San Diego State product Ronnie Hillman. Over the last two weeks, Hillman has been Denver’s feature back and he has played well. Stopping Hillman can turn the vaunted Manning passing attack into a one-dimensional, defendable concept. The only reason I don’t say the same for the Chargers is it has been shown that, no matter how meager the run production is, it is important for the success of the Charger offense that it remains three-dimensional. Mike McCoy will not abandon the running game at any cost.
This game is a great time for the San Diego to show the Broncos, and the rest of the league, that they are a team to be reckoned with in 2014. It is encouraging that it still took a last second field goal to beat them on their worst day. It is also encouraging that the Bolts have found their killer instinct and finished off lesser teams they way playoff caliber teams do. It is worth mentioning that the Chargers two losses are by a combined four points. San Diego has arrived and no one has been able to walk over this perceived soft, finesse football team. They have been able to out-physical teams all season long, most notably against the world champion Seattle Seahawks.
This game looks like a slam dunk for the Broncos to the talking heads all over TV and radio. But they thought the same thing last year. The Chargers are a wounded animal, ravaged by injuries and put into a corner by the biggest dog in the yard. A wounded animal is a dangerous animal. I fully expect the Chargers to shock the world (again) by getting the win in enemy territory. San Diego will assume first place in the AFC West once again by defeating Denver 31-27.
The Greg One
Actually, I really don’t; not even close. I despise everything about that team, including their bandwagon fans. I cower at the thought of even saying Broncos and love in the same sentence. My hatred has grown stronger for the orange donkeys in recent years. Many would say they dislike the Oakland Raiders the most, however my disgust is for the Denver Broncos.
The Raiders have always been one of the most hated teams in the NFL and to most San Diego Charger fans, yet I loathe the Broncos ever since I could remember. I’m a little too young to have witnessed the ‘Holy Roller’ game, but I do remember the meltdown game a few years ago – the Chargers led at halftime 24-0, but ended up losing the game to their putrid rivals. I remember being at the bar, sitting on my stool, red in the face with the aggravation of orange and blue donkey fans screaming at me from across the building saying, “Chargers suck”. It’s only a game they say, but to me it’s pure war.
I’m not sure if it is the attitude most Denver fans have that their team is the best in the NFL, or that in recent years more and more fans jumped on the donkey bandwagon. I just can’t stand any of it or any of them. I can’t stand the insulting Philip Rivers’ memes or how the fans mock the San Diego Chargers. It makes my blood boil. Have you heard recently that the Denver Broncos are the new “America’s Team”? Ever since good old golden boy, Peyton Manning, stepped on the field of Mile High Stadium, fans across the nation have jumped on board. I can’t even count how many fans I have encountered that only cheer for the Broncos because of the fact that fat forehead Manning is now the quarterback. Quite frankly, I just want to push them all off the old squeaky carriage. I thought the Dallas Cowboy fans were bad, but the Bronco fans take the cake.
Does everyone remember watching last year’s Super Bowl game? I do, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Grinning from cheek to cheek, as the Seattle Seahawks demolished and embarrassed the Broncos in front of millions of viewers in the biggest football game of the year. Yet, that satisfaction doesn’t even compare to the two divisional matchups every season between the Chargers. I want the Broncos to lose every game they play and I want their fans to sulk in misery because of it.
Are the Broncos a good team? Sure, but I don’t care. I don’t care that their fans will always reference back to a Super Bowl ring from the late 90’s or that they claim to have the best offense in the league. I have even sworn to not even acknowledge the ugly blue and orange jersey wearing fans found outside their filthy barns. I don’t want anything to do with the Denver Broncos other than seeing a W in the win column after a Thursday Night Football game – or in any other games played between the two. This isn’t one of the better games to see this year, it is the game. This the ultimate duel between two rival teams and their fans. I’m a diehard Charger fan, bleeding blue and gold that will never like the Broncos or their bandwagon fans.
With a tough, ugly loss on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers fell to 1-1 in the division. The contest against the Chiefs, to me, was the worst performance of the season. First off, the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely dominated time of possession; they had the ball twice as long as we did. The Chiefs took it to us on the ground, running the ball for 154 yards on 39 carries, led by Jamaal Charles (22 att/95 yds/1 TD) which was a huge factor in helping them play keep-away from the hand of Philip Rivers and his offense.
While most of the Kansas City drives produced little to nothing on the scoreboard as they kicked three field goals to two touchdowns, it made our offensive possessions that much more precious and important; especially when the Chief defense forced the Chargers to kick two field goals of their own. The Chargers posted a 30% 3rd down conversion rate which showed our inability to keep drives going in order to put points on the board.
Other than Week 3 against Buffalo, the Chargers have not won a game scoring less than 30 points. This is not necessarily a defensive issue, rather it illustrates how potent San Diego’s offense is and allows the defense the luxury of not having the spotlight on them. The defense was front and center on Sunday and showed their inability to get the necessary stop. John Pagano’s unit was exhausted after being on the field for so long.
A 1-1 AFC West record is not bad, but it makes Thursday night against the Denver Broncos that much more important. The Broncos hold a 1-0 record in the division, the Chiefs tie the Chargers at 1-1, and every win the Raiders have this season is as many as they have in the division. The AFC West will be all knotted up in a 1-1 tie if San Diego can prevail on Thursday as the Chiefs cannot improve their division record against the Rams on Sunday. Beating Denver will be no small task.
Peyton Manning and crew will come into this game with a great offensive rhythm as their offense has averaged 38 points since their Week 3 loss in Seattle. During this streak, Manning got the “monkey off his back” by throwing his NFL all-time leading 509th and 510th career touchdowns.
While Denver owns the 14th ranked total offense, they boast a top-10 passing game (7th) with Manning putting up a league leading 118.2 passer rating and 19 touchdowns, second to Tony Romo in completion percentage, and 9th in yards. The run game is what has been weighing this offense down. They rank 29th overall with only 571 yards on the season. Much can be accredited to the Montee Ball project not being as successful as expected this season with only 172 yards and a fumble through four games before being hit with a groin injury that has kept him out since. Ronnie Hillman has been serviceable over the past two weeks posting 174 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries.
The Chargers will have a tough time getting back on track offensively as Denver has allowed the second least amount of yards this season. Specifically, the Broncos will put out the 7th rated passing defense and the 2nd stingiest run defense in football on Thursday night. This will surely test MVP candidate Rivers and rookie sensation Branden Oliver. Our own defense will have to play in prime form. With many injuries to choose from, when you talk about Manning it is significant to point out we will be without our #1 corner in Brandon Flowers and possibly rookie Jason Verrett.
Simply put, this is a huge game if the Chargers have any hopes of capturing the AFC West crown this season. Going 1-2 in the division, and 0-1 against Denver, could give San Diego a tough hill to climb going forward.
After a sloppy, yet impressive, win in Oakland, the Chargers will come home for the last time until Week 11. The week upcoming could not be more important. After an AFC West showdown against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers will have to gear right back up and visit Peyton Manning and the Broncos at Mile High on Thursday night.
With Kansas City (2-3, 0-1) taking off Week 6 with a bye, one can assume they will come into Sundays contest against the Chargers (5-1, 1-0) well prepared. While I am always nervous about division games, the Chiefs share something with Oakland this season that makes me slightly more nervous for this matchup. Kansas City will arrive in San Diego with no division wins. As I stated in my previous article, nothing makes a rival’s day more than to ruin a division opponents record. San Diego stands undefeated in the AFCW. But they’ve only played one game.
While Kansas City only holds a 2-3 record, they have looked impressive at times, with their best win of the season being against the New England Patriots. There are some good and bad things to consider when you look at their team. Kansas City ranks 5th in total defense with 1709 yards allowed so far this season, yet they rank 14th in yards allowed per game. This can be a result of their rather early bye. Kansas City also boasts a “middle of the pack” run defense with a ranking of 13th, yet they are only one of two teams (Buffalo) that have not surrendered a touchdown via the ground game.
With a hot Philip Rivers under center, Chargers fans should be rather pleased to see Kansas City this week. The Chiefs rank toward the bottom of the league (23rd) in opposing QB passer rating. The Chiefs also only have two interceptions on the season and allow 7 yards per pass completion. I see another big day for the MVP candidate.
The Chiefs own the 15th rated rushing attack along with the 31st rated passing game. The Charger 8th rated defense should fare well against their western foes.
With a monumental week ahead, the Bolts will have to play some of their best football twice within a 5-day span. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty damn confident they will. I look forward to seeing where we stand in the division after Thursday.