The opposite of smack talk is spewing out of the Chargers (3-2) and Broncos (2-3) camps this week as the two teams prepare for a Monday night showdown. The Chargers were virtual kryptonite for QB Peyton Manning when he was with the Colts. Chargers coach Norv Turner has a 4-1 record vs. Manning since 2007. But neither the Chargers nor Manning is willing to acknowledge that past results will play into this week’s game, and both are avoiding saying anything that would be worthy of bulletin board material.
U-T San Diego reports that it appears Mathews will start Monday night against Denver. Jackie Battle has started the past two games, with Mathews coming in off the bench.
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Chargers lead Broncos by one game in AFC West. … Peyton Manning has won 11 of 15 Monday starts, with 96.3 passer rating. … Last week, Manning registered 66th career 300-yard passing game, most in NFL history. .. Broncos wasted Manning’s 345-yard, three-touchdown performance in loss to Patriots. … San Diego’s Philip Rivers is 7-3 on Monday nights, with 17 touchdowns, 105.2 passer rating. … Chargers have won nine of last 12 in series, but Broncos have won two of last three in San Diego. … Although this is first matchup against Manning since he signed with Broncos, Chargers have had QB’s number since 2005, going 5-1 against him while he was with Indianapolis. Chargers eliminated Manning’s Colts from playoffs in 2007 and ‘08. … San Diego 5-4 overall against Manning since 1998, when he was No. 1 draft pick overall and Chargers took Ryan Leaf No. 2. … Denver had as many playoff wins last season, one, as Chargers have in last four seasons. Chargers missed playoffs last two seasons. … San Diego coach Norv Turner is 110-115-1 in regular season in stops with Washington, Oakland and San Diego. … Chargers appear ready to take training wheels off RB Ryan Mathews after limiting his carries last two games in punishment for fumbling at Atlanta 4-yard line in 27-3 loss to Falcons three weeks ago.
SAN DIEGO —- Peyton Manning spent nearly 10 minutes on a conference call with local reporters. He didn’t say much. The Denver Broncos quarterback sidestepped most inquires during the standard pre-game session, especially his lackluster track record against the Chargers. He wouldn’t even concede that Denver imported elements of his offense from Indianapolis to exploit his talents.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Few offenses are capable of executing the quick-set attack New England hit Denver with last week, but the Broncos still spent extra time in the film room going over all 97 times the defense lined up against the Patriots to prepare for upcoming opponents trying to replicate the blueprint. San Diego appears to be hitting its offensive stride with QB Philip Rivers developing chemistry with vertical threat Robert Meachem and RB Ryan Mathews responding to coach Norv Turner’s challenge to step up. The Broncos aren’t having trouble moving the ball – but they are having trouble holding onto it with seven fumbles lost. That has contributed to the defense being under constant pressure. QB Peyton Manning continues to put up big passing numbers and the key is red zone production so Denver isn’t yet again fighting out of a double-digit deficit.
Left tackle Jared Gaither didn’t practice Thursday, so maybe having a long week will aid the Chargers.
San Diego’s game against the Denver Broncos isn’t until Monday night, and coach Norv Turner said Wednesday that he was confident Gaither would play.
When the Chargers were 2-0 they were headed straight for the Super Bowl. When they had the dismal loss against the Falcons they weren’t even going to make it into the playoffs. After they demolished the Chiefs in Arrowhead, again things were looking up.