To infinity and beyond! Denver, S.D. love to score
The over-under on this one might be infinity.
Peyton Manning and the Denver Bronco offense will score on every other play today.
On those rare plays Denver isn’t scoring, Philip Rivers and San Diego will be.
Manning throws wobbly touchdowns.
Rivers short-arms, shot puts or under-hands his passes time and again for first downs.
Whatever it takes.
One of Manning’s favorite targets is a 6-foot-5 former basketball player.
Rivers’ favorite target is a 6-foot-5 former basketball player.
Three out of every 10 pass attempts, Manning throws an incompletion.
Three out of every 10 pass attempts, Rivers throws an incompletion.
Manning hands off because he feels he has to occasionally — usually on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 when he sees the defense dropping back into Deep Cover Two.
Rivers hands off about as often as tsunamis tear into San Diego’s harbor.
The head coach of the Chargers is a former Bronco offensive coordinator.
The head coach of the Broncos, at least for the time being, is the current Bronco defensive coordinator.
San Diego owned the Broncos and owned Manning, even when he was with the Indianapolis Colts — right up until they were ahead last season 24-0 and the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
After that, it was Peyton and the Broncos 35, Chargers 0.
From that halftime on, the Broncos have reinvented themselves, winning 20 games and losing two, one in regular season, one in postseason.
From that point on, the Chargers have reinvented themselves, getting rid of head coach Norv Turner, who was fond of finding ways to lose, and replacing him with Mike McCoy, the afore-mentioned Bronco offensive coordinator.
McCoy, not being Turner, has done some intelligent things since taking over, not the least of which is to copy what Denver was doing right down to the last crossed ‘t’ and dotted ‘i’.
The similarities are striking:
Manning and the Broncos, as the entire free world knows, are on pace to set virtually every NFL offensive record that has to do with scoring and/or passing. Most of the league’s rushing marks are safe.
Manning has thrown for 2,919 yards and 29 touchdowns, completing 71 percent of his passes. The 7-1 Broncos are averaging 42 points per game.
Rivers, not to be outdone by much, has thrown for 2,473 yards and 17 touchdowns, completing a league-high 72 percent of his passes.
When Manning does hand off, it’s usually to Knowshon Moreno, who has 456 yards in 108 carries.
When Rivers hands off, it’s to Ryan Mathews, who has 480 yards in 117 carries.
It’s the touchdowns from these two tailbacks that give us a clue about the differences in the offenses and why Denver has the advantage today. Moreno has eight TDs on the year, Mathews one.
Denver moves the ball well and scores touchdowns. The Chargers move the ball well to the tune of 404 yards per game, but rank only 16th in the league in scoring, averaging 24 points per game, hence the relatively mediocre 4-4 record.
A good example of the Chargers being the Chargers came last week in Washington in the final seconds against the Redskins.
The Chargers had first-and-goal from the 1 with 21 seconds left, trailing by three. They had two timeouts in hand. Should have been game, set, match.
But a running attempt and two incomplete passes had them settle for a field goal and overtime, which the Redskins won with a touchdown on their first possession.
It was McCoy doing his best impression of Turner. Yes, old habits die hard.
While we talk about offensive similarities, let’s not ignore the defenses entirely.
Both have been borderline terrible.
Denver ranks 24th in the league allowing 380 yards per game and San Diego 28th, allowing 394 yards per game.
The Broncos problem has been in stopping the pass, allowing 328 yards per game. The Broncos, however, have stopped the run, allowing only 81 yards per game and only 3.4 yards per attempt, second-best in the league.
San Diego has allowed 277 via the air, but has allowed a whopping 4.9 yards per carry and 120 rushing yards per game.
What does all this mean?
I’ll take my 7-1 record picking with or against Denver and say the beat goes on in a big way: The Broncos will pressure Rivers with ex-Charger Shaun Phillips on one side and Von Miller on the other, force mistakes and maybe a tantrum or two – and win with relative ease.
Make it Denver 47, San Diego 35.
Not infinity, but close.