Fear the Bolts? Um, no
The Chargers are coming! The Chargers are coming!
Stock up on bottled water and canned goods. Batten the hatches, bolt the windows, and lock the doors.
That’s right, the San Diego Chargers, still in the AFC playoff chase and fresh off a 37-14 drubbing of the powerful New York Giants!
The Denver Broncos should be shaking in their collective cleats, right?
After all, the Broncos are beat up and don’t have time to put in that incredibly complicated game plan thanks to the short week, as in two days of practice.
Their All-World slot receiver, Wes Welker, is concussed.
Most of Denver’s defense now consists of nondescripts who should be looking for another line of work.
Denver’s quarterback can’t play in the cold, and tonight’s game will be in the dark, in mid-December, and a mile into the troposphere.
And the Chargers, now 6-7, are starting to get it offensively behind first-year head coach Mike McCoy, the guy who helped Peyton Manning, that warm-weather quarterback, last season when he was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. The Chargers are averaging 27 points per game during the past six games, and that includes a 17-10 loss to Cincinnati, one of the league’s top defenses.
Yes, the Chargers are coming, and the Broncos, proud owners of an 11-2 record (they should be 13-0), are shaking.
Er, probably not.
It has been mentioned that this is a key game for the Broncos in terms of claiming the AFC’s top playoff seed, keeping home-field advantage and gaining perhaps an extra week off for healing purposes. True that.
Here’s what hasn’t been mentioned: The Chargers are freaking terrible defensively.
Think back to Sunday’s Denver win over the Tennessee Titans; the Titans were an aggressive, good defensive team.
The Titans had two of the league’s best cornerbacks, a superb strong safety and a beefy defensive line.
Denver, despite problems catching the football, still scored 20 points in a poor first half, then added 31 after intermission.
The Broncos had 39 first downs in the game, one short of the NFL record. They had 397 passing yards and 154 rushing yards for 551 total. They had a 64-yard field goal, this one very much an NFL record from Matt Prater, on one of the rare occasions the Titans did stop them.
Even after that beat down, the Titans are ranked as the eighth-best defense in the league, according to Pro Football Focus statistics.
And here come the Chargers?
The Chargers are rated 31st, second-to-last. San Diego ranks among the worst in the league in run defense, pass coverage and pass rush.
Manning, the quarterback who can’t come in from the cold, isn’t shaking and won’t be shivering tonight (temperature at game time is expected to be in the low 40s).
He will be salivating, licking his pizza-making chops.
Yes, Philip Rivers and the Chargers will put up points. Rivers, after all, is one of the league’s top quarterbacks, one who completes nearly 70 percent of his passes and has the Chargers up near the top in passing offense with Denver and New Orleans.
He has two outstanding tight ends in veteran Antonio Gates and second-year man Ladarius Green, with Green just recently becoming a down-field factor because of his speed.
There is also rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has 902 receiving yards on the season.
And Sunday in the Chargers 37-14 romp over the New York Giants, running back Ryan Mathews ran for 103 yards on a career-high 29 carries.
The Chargers will score tonight, maybe close to or into the 30s.
For the Broncos’ total, you will need to get out your handy-dandy calculator.
I’ll take my 11-2 record picking with or against the Broncos and say Denver has to bring out Britton Colquitt to punt once (he punted twice against the Titans).
It might sound a tad ridiculous, but Manning & Co. will be taking no prisoners in this one: Denver 56, San Diego 30.
And then it will be time to cheer for the Miami Dolphins, who host the New England Patriots on Sunday, or maybe Baltimore, which entertains the Pats the next week.
Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor.