News & Notes From Chargers-Broncos AFC Divisional Round Matchup

500x305-playoffs-logoIn what means little in the grand scheme of things, the No. 6 and No. 1 seeds have met in the divisional round of the playoffs five times in the last five years with the road team coming out on top four of those times. San Diego, riding a five-game winning streak, will look to send Peyton Manning and Co. to a second consecutive premature exit from the playoffs. It should have some confidence based solely on recent success. San Diego defeated Denver on the very same field at Mile High less than a month ago.

Coordinators for both of these teams have been hot commodities on the NFL coaching circuit. Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has drawn interest from at least the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans, among others, while Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has received overtures from multiple teams about their head coaching vacancies. Whoever loses this game may in fact find itself short a coordinator while the winning club will likely be able to return its coordinator based solely on teams needed to making a decision sooner rather than later. That’s one of the most intriguing thing about head coaching rumors while the NFL playoffs are still going on.

A lot has been made about Manning’s lack of success in the playoffs over the years, but one thing seems to be lost in all of this.  Whether quarterback rating is an indicator of success in the NFL is questionable. With that said, the simple fact that Manning boasts a higher quarterback rating in the postseason than Tom Brady tells us that he’s more than capable of leading Denver’s record-setting offense to new heights and overcoming massive postseason disappointments of the past.

It is well  documented that Denver will be without defensive stalwart Von Miller in the postseason. The former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year tore his ACL last month and will not be available until training camp. Two lesser known injuries may impact Denver’s ability on defense in its playoff matchup this weekend. Champ Bailey and Wesley Woodyard have both been limited in practice and in games over the course of the season. They will be taking on more complementary roles against San Diego come Sunday. Woodyard was one of the better pass-coverage linebackers in a breakout 2012 campaign for the Broncos and started out strong this season. After averaging over 65 snaps per outing in the first 11 games of the season, Woodyard is tallying just 25 snaps per game over the course of his last four outings.

Keenan Allen had a historically good rookie season for a wide receiver that made a lot of people spend and make money in sports betting.

The 1,046 yards he put up during the regular year represented the seventh-most in the NFL since the merger. Allen has struggled with consistency over the past few games, catching a total of just 15 passes in his last five outings, but he’s going to have to come up big here if the Chargers are going to come out on top.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists were announced on Thursday and two Broncos made the news, each for different reasons. Former Broncos safety John Lynch was one of 15 to be named as a finalist. The Stanford grad earned nine trips to the Pro Bowl in a career that spanned 15 seasons, including his final four with Denver. Lynch will, however, be better known as an important cog in one of the most dominating defenses in recent NFL history with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. One of the biggest snubs from the finalist ballot has to be, Terrell Davis, who led Denver to back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. While Davis had a short stretch of success, what he did in his first four seasons is still among the best performances in league history. Davis put up 7,594 yards and 61 touchdowns during that four-year stretch.

Second-year Chargers tight end Ladarius Green, who I was extremely high on leading up to the 2012 NFL draft, has finally started to see more playing time with Antonio Gates on the Chargers offense…and his impact has been felt. The former Louisiana-Lafayette star put up three catches for 34 yards and a score in San Diego’s wild card victory over Cincinnati last week. Green is averaged over 20 yards per reception during the regular year. He might be a key under-the-radar performer in this one.

 

Quick One Liners

-In what has to be considered nothing more than an anomaly, Manning boasts a 0-2 record in his postseason career against the Chargers and is 4-5 against Rivers overall.

– Darren Woodson of ESPN ranked remaining playoff quarterbacks. Manning headed the list at No. 1 overall, while Rivers came in at six.

– For what it is worth, I ranked Manning atop the list and Rivers at No. 7 overall. 

– Ryan Mathews and Knowshon Moreno were two of the most surprising running backs during the regular year. They combined for over 3,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns on the year.

– While Keenan Allen was a pleasant surprise, it’s  interesting to note that two broncos pass catchers tallied more receptions and four total broncos pass catchers had more touchdowns.

– Manning’s career record against the Chargers is 7-4 in 11 games. He’s thrown 24 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions with an 84.9 rating in those 11 games.

– Rivers boasts a career 10-7 record against the Broncos and has thrown 27 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions for a 96.6 rating in those meetings.