Up next for Denver: Based on the wild card games the Broncos would likely prefer to face anyone but the Colts who beat them behind in Indianapolis two months ago. The Broncos swept the Chiefs this season, and split with the Chargers. If the Bengals win the Broncos cannot face Cincinnati since they are the third seed in the playoffs. The interesting matchup for Denver could be San Diego. The Broncos lost at home to the Chargers two weeks ago behind a big defensive performance for the Chargers. San Diego did the best job of slowing down the Broncos offense of any team Denver faced this season. If San Diego can manage to defeat the Bengals they’ll travel to Denver. If Cincinnati beats the Chargers the Broncos are guaranteed to play either the Colts or Chiefs. By: Chris Cabrera
Where the game was won: The Broncos were sloppy early, allowing the Titans to build a 21-7 lead. As in so many games this season the Broncos offense dominated the second through fourth quarters, scoring over fifty points for the fourth time this season. Manning was as efficient as ever, throwing touchdowns to four different Broncos receivers. Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julian Thomas all caught touchdown passes for the Broncos. Decker, coming off a career game last week, caught 8 passes for 117 yards. The former Minnesota Gophers star has caught sixteen passes for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns the past two weeks. While Manning and his receiving crew were dominating through the air the combination of Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball was effective on the ground. The duo combined for 155 yards rushing on 29 carries and a touchdown each. With 551 yards the Broncos outgained the Titans by nearly 300 yards. The Broncos offensive line was perfect once again, not giving up a sack while their future Hall of Fame quarterback lit up the Titans through the air.
Up next for Denver: Denver hosts their division rivals the San Diego Chargers next weekend at Invesco Field. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 28-20 in a November matchup in San Diego. The Chargers are still alive in the playoff race after thrashing the New York Giants 37-14 in San Diego on Sunday. At 6-7 the Chargers likely need to upset Denver to have any chance at earning a wild card in the AFC. San Diego has an efficient, ball-control offense, but struggles defensively. Look for the Chargers to put points on the board behind Philip Rivers and the offense but the Chargers defense is unlikely to have much success stopping the Broncos. The win will put the Broncos one game closer to a division title and will keep them on top in the race for home field advantage in the AFC.
Prediction: Manning throws for over 300-yards once again as Denver manages a convincing victory over the Chargers. The Broncos earn their 12th victory of the season with a 41-31 victory over the Chargers. Broncos Vs Chargers Tickets are still available for the Dec 12th game at Invesco Field.
At the end of the 2012-13 NFL Football season the San Diego Chargers decided to part ways with Norv Turner. The relationship with Turner and the Chargers fan base had been severed as many felt as if Turner walked into a very talented team left behind by Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer was fired after winning 14 games and being one game away from the AFC Championship game. During the first few seasons Turner was in San Diego the Chargers won the division and went to the playoffs. As years moved on Turner saw his record get progressively worse and the Chargers ended up missing the playoffs for several years in a row. When Turner was let go many Chargers fans were left wondering what the front office of the Chargers would do. That question was answered very quickly when they hired the offensive coordinator from the Denver Broncos, Mike McCoy. Today, many Chargers fans are left wondering if this is the right coach for the job.
Mike McCoy’s Background
Mike McCoy has been an offensive guy since becoming a coach. He spent many years with the Carolina Panthers with Jake Delhomme before moving to the Denver Broncos. Interestingly, prior to one season with Peyton Manning most would agree that the Denver Broncos did not have the best offense in the AFC. Some would argue the Denver offense was downright bad. So much so that they had to start Tim Tebow at quarterback and win games with their defense. Even though this was the case the San Diego Chargers felt as if he was the man for the job.
AJ Smith was the general manager for the San Diego Chargers through the rise and fall over the last decade. Many felt as if AJ was way too controlling of the team. When he interviewed a coach that wanted to control a certain part of the organization AJ went another way. In fact, he was actually nicknamed the “Lord of No Rings” because he was able to spot amazing talent such as Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers but he was never able to put a full team and coach staff together that could win a Super Bowl. After the Norv Turner debacle the San Diego Chargers let AJ Smith go as well.
The fact that AJ Smith would not be doing the interviewing for the new San Diego Chargers head coach position made many feel as if they would go out and get a coach that wanted to control certain aspects of the team. A common name that kept coming up was Jon Gruden. When all was said and done they went with Mike McCoy who does not seem like a coach that wants to run the entire organization. We are still waiting to see if this is good or bad. I personally feel as if the San Diego Chargers need a more controlling coach like Bill Parcells or Jon Gruden. The Chargers have had a very weak team over the last few years. There is not much intensity and they tend to get pushed around. Some people relate this to the overall atmosphere of the city of San Diego and the fans. I have been to several games in San Diego and the fans are not the best. They have other options like plenty of beaches and golf. To get Qualcomm Stadium full during any game on Sunday there has to be some fans from the away team in attendance. This filters through to the organization and some of the players on the field. This is not the atmosphere that Pittsburgh or Green Bay has when it comes to the NFL team in each town.
Mike McCoy did not start his coaching career with a team that had a strong football history. The Carolina Panthers were a newer organization and fans in Charlotte were still learning about the team. The Denver Broncos have a much stronger football tradition as they won Super Bowl championships with John Elway. It will be interesting to see how Mike McCoy tries to change the culture of the San Diego Chargers. Interestingly, Philip Rivers is a very emotional guy that has a passion for the game of football. Even when I was in college I could see Philip change the atmosphere of a team that was not known for winning. I have quite a bit of knowledge about Mr. Rivers as we were very good friends at NC State in the early 2000s.
Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers is one of the most emotional quarterbacks in the NFL. In fact, some would argue that his emotions sometimes get the best of him. While at NC State from 2000-2004 ACC fans knew that Philip was going to talk the talk but, most of the time, he backed it up. He holds many ACC passing records and still holds the most touchdowns in a career at NC State and in the ACC. During his first two years in the NFL he sat behind Drew Brees and learned from watching. As soon as he got a chance to start he was immediately successful. He went to the playoffs his first few seasons in the NFL and he was throwing for 300 yards a game what seemed like every game. His first season as a starter the Chargers went 14-2 and won the AFC West division.
Unfortunately, after that season Marty Schottenheimer was let go. Not only was Schottenheimer let go but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was let go as well. The Chargers brought in another offensive mind as head coach in Norv Turner. During Turner’s first few years in San Diego Philip Rivers thrived. He made the Pro Bowl and led the NFL in passing yards. Unfortunately, the San Diego Chargers front office let many of his favorite wide receiver targets go. It was also the case that the Chargers running game disappeared as LaDainian Tomlinson was getting old. This allowed defenses to focus on Philip Rivers and his stats started to suffer. He threw way too many interceptions and the Chargers found a way to lose games in the 4th quarter. This was the main reason Norv Turner was let go and Mike McCoy was brought in.
Some have wondered if Mike McCoy would help Philip Rivers get his confidence back. Through the first few weeks of he NFL season Philip Rivers has played much better but the Chargers are coming up just short when it comes to winning games. In all the early season games the Chargers have had a chance to win in the 4th quarter but they have only been victorious versus the Philadelphia Eagles. In all reality, the Chargers were better than the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans but they did not get the wins. Philip Rivers is not throwing as many interceptions and he is back to his old self when it comes to throwing for 300 or 400 yards a game. This is interesting because the Chargers still do not have a dominant wide receiver in which Rivers can go to in a crucial situation.
The Chargers Playoff Chances
Unfortunately, the San Diego Chargers are in the same division as Peyton Manning. When Peyton Manning came to the Denver Broncos most Chargers fans knew it was going to be tough to win the AFC West. The Broncos offense looks amazing this year and they are already a few games ahead of the Chargers. Unless the Chargers start winning these close games or Peyton Manning has his arm fall off it is unlikely the Chargers are going to win the AFC West in the 2013-14 season. Most San Diego Chargers fans do not expect this team to win the Super Bowl this season. That said, they would like to see this team improve and not lose games in which they are more talented than the other team.
Once of the big arguments against Norv Turner was that he lost games in which the Chargers had better players than the opponents. He was also known for losing games early in the season and having to go on long winning streaks at the end of the season just to have a winning record. While the Chargers have not started the season great in 2013 they are still playing better than they did under Norv Turner at the outset of the season. Having been a Chargers fan long enough I have become accustomed to the Chargers playing very bad at the beginning of the season and putting themselves in a terrible position.
I have also noticed that the Chargers are not turning the ball over as much this year. Philip Rivers threw way too many interceptions in the past two years and the running backs often fumbled in key situations. If the Chargers can play fundamental football and live up to their potential Mike McCoy might be just the right guy for the coaching job.
Norv Turner and the San Diego Chargers head in to week 5 sitting atop the AFC West with a three and one record. The Chargers head to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a game that has a lot more on the line for the Saints then the Chargers. So the Chargers will need to play a balanced game while looking for a big game out of Philip Rivers.
The Chargers have gotten off to a great start with two of the three wins coming against division rivals the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. In order for a team to win the division they have to take care of the teams in that division. That is exactly what the Chargers has done this season. In week 1 Philip Rivers threw for 231and 1 touchdown while Nate Kaeding added 5 field goals to beat the Raiders 22-14. After taking care of the Tennessee Titans in week 2 38-10 the Chargers would find themselves in a tough match-up against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons would be to much and the Chargers would fall 27-3. The team would rebound in week 4 defeating the Chiefs as Rivers threw for 209 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while the running game added 104 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers would benefit from 3 interceptions from Matt Cassel and 3 loss fumbles in the running game. The Chargers beat the Chiefs 37-20 to move to 3-1 on the season.
Now next up is the Saints where Drew Brees has a chance to pass Johnny Unitas in the all-time consecutive games throwing a touchdown record and they also look for the first win of the season. This match-up will be difficult as the NFL has allowed suspended head coach Sean Payton the chance to attend the game due to the record. This will give the Saints some inspiration and will come out ready to play.
In week 6 Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will come to town in a divisional match-up. This game will be an intense game as both teams have goals on winning the division. This is only the first of two between the two teams as they also square off in week 11 as well. The Chargers will need to find a running game down the stretch if they want to win the division while the Broncos look for Peyton to lead them to the post-season.
After week 6 the Chargers get a bye before getting three games against teams they should beat the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These three games will be key as the next four games comes against the Broncos, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers. All four should be tough down to the wire games with the Chargers needing at least 2 wins in those 4. The match-ups against all four of the AFC North teams will be defensive battles with the team winning making the fewer mistakes. The Chargers finish up taking on the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and the Raiders. This gives them a chance to win the last three games and lock up the division.
The Chargers will need to continue to stop the run and play good defense while Rivers needs to throw touchdowns and not turn the ball over. This is a big season for the Chargers and Turner with high expectations on the line.
The ending to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2011 season was tragic at best. The Steelers were one of the three favorites to win the AFC title going into the 2011 season having come off a defeat by the Packers in Super Bowl XLV. The team played well throughout the season battling the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North’s top spot. However, Week 14 was the beginning of the end for the Steelers’ season. While playing the Cleveland Browns, Ben Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle injury while scrambling out of the pocket. Instead of deciding to heal the ankle Big Ben decided to start the next game against the San Francisco 49ers in order to clinch a playoff birth in Week 15. Roethlisberger was noticeably limping during the game and ultimately had to sit out. Charlie Batch started the next two games for the Steelers, eventually clinching a Wild Card playoff spot. The Steelers were heavily favored in the Wild Card game against the miracle Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow. In shock and amazement to everyone in the world, the Broncos were successful in passing the football against the top defense in football. With a single overtime play of 80 yards, the Steelers were sent packing home and left scratching their head. With the collapse of the 2011 season behind them, what will the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers bring to the table?
The 2012 Steelers will be quite a bit different from the Steelers of the past five years. Due to the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players, the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves with salary cap problems during the 2012 offseason. Player casualties from front office decisions were the releasing of veteran Steelers players such as Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, and Max Starks. An analyst once said that the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have backup players but “starters in waiting” and there has been no other time more important for those “starters in waiting” to play at the same level of standard that the Steelers fans are accustomed to than during the 2012 season. Other veteran Steelers players have restructured their contracts to also help the organization in its salary cap problems.
The historic franchise has done its best in trying to replace its cap casualties by signing back Max Starks, resigning Jerricho Cotchery, and signing Leonard Pope. The Steelers also addressed its offensive line disasters through the draft, using its first two picks in selecting two offensive linemen, David DeCastro and Mike Adams. The Steelers have also drafted several other weapons to develop as “starters in waiting” as is the Steelers way. Electric running back Chris Rainey looks to be a change of pace back on third down situations and the primary kick and punt returner, Sean Spence will be developed into a Steelers future middle linebacker, and Alameda Ta’amu looks to replace nose tackle Casey Hampton in the future.
The Steelers have also dealt with disgruntled wide out Mike Wallace. Mike Wallace has demanded a long term contract with money equivalent to one of the top players in the league. Not giving into the demands of Wallace, the Steelers prepared to play the season without him and rewarded second year standout wide receiver Antonio Brown with a five year contract extension. Wallace and company finally decided to sign the restricted free agent tender offered to him by the Steelers and report to the team with only two weeks away from the start of the 2012 season.
The Steelers have always had one of the best defenses year in and year out. With Dick LeBeau still in command of the defense and some younger players being inserted into the starting roster, it looks like the Steelers will continue its dominant defensive tradition. The offense on the other hand might need some time to adjust to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offensive system. It’s no secret that Ben Roethlisberger loved Bruce Arians’ offense the past couple of seasons but with a changing of the guard and Pittsburgh native Haley in command of the offense, the Steelers may struggle early on in the season.
All in all, the Steelers have an elite defense and playmakers on offense. They may struggle for the first month, trying to learn the new personnel changes but they will once again be a heavy favorite in the AFC rivaling the Patriots, Ravens, and Texans for top honors. The first test will be against the same team that sent them home last season, in the same building, however Tim Tebow is no longer running the team, that job now belongs to Peyton Manning. We will see how prepared the Steelers are to redeem its 2011 season right from Week 1.