After one of the greatest offensive regular seasons of all time, Peyton Manning will lead the Denver Broncos against the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs on Sunday. The Broncos split the season series with the Chargers and there is a lot of speculation, both nationally and locally, that the Broncos won’t be able to pull out the victory. The Chargers were pretty underrated before they won last week, but I still believe that the Broncos are a much better team than San Diego.
With that said, for the Broncos to win on Sunday they need to:
Score over 30 points: The Chargers scored 30 points only four times this season and only scored over 40 once. On the flip side, the Broncos scored 30 thirteen times in the regular season, and they scored over 50 twice.
Denver has a much better offense than San Diego and if the game comes down to Peyton Manning versus Philip Rivers I think that Denver fans will be happy at the end of the game. The Chargers have several dynamic playmakers, but I don’t think that they can win a game that turns into a shootout.
The Broncos haven’t scored over 30 against the Chargers this year and Chargers coach (and ex-Broncos offensive coordinator) Mike McCoy has been able to control Peyton Manning better than any other coach this season.
Broncos fans should hope that 3rd time’s the charm for Manning against the Chargers this weekend, because if the Denver offense produces like it can this game should be a blowout.
Win the 3rd down battle: 3rd downs were the reason why the Broncos lost in the playoffs last year.
Championships are won and lost on third down and last year against Baltimore the Broncos failed to convert on several key third downs throughout the game that ended up costing them.
This season, the Broncos were the second best team in the league with regards to 3rd down conversion percentage. The best team was San Diego.
Whichever team can convert more 3rd downs will obviously be able to continue drives. This is important for San Diego because converted third downs means less time for Peyton Manning to have the ball. For Denver and it’s suspect defense, third down conversions will be critical with regards to the field position battle.
Unless both teams score exclusively off 80-yard touchdown plays, the winner of the 3rd down battle will almost certainly win the game.
Avoid the costly special teams mistake: There are three phases of the game, and all of them can cause a team to win or lose.
The Broncos very nearly went to the AFC championship last year because of special teams, but they also very nearly lost home field advantage in this years playoffs because for the same reason.
I don’t think that Trindon Holliday has to be great for the Broncos to win. If the defense is able to generate stops and Peyton Manning and company can step up there shouldn’t be a need for a great return game.
However, Holliday does have to be safe if the Broncos want to win. If a punt is bouncing around the 15-yard line with a crowd of Chargers around it, Holliday has to leave it alone.
If Holliday tries to be a hero and fails the Broncos may lose another playoff game to a team they should beat, but if Holliday plays conservatively and takes what is given to him the Broncos will have a great chance to win.
If the Broncos do these three things, I believe that they will win no matter how the rest of the team plays. Agree? Disagree? Say so below.