Denver, bring out your bolo ties. Philip Rivers is coming to town.
After defeating the Bengals 27-10 in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, the Chargers will continue their improbable playoff run in Denver on Jan. 12 when they face the Broncos at 2:40 p.m.It will be the first time the division rivals have ever met in the playoffs in 108 games between the two teams.
After squeaking into the playoffs in Week 17 against the Chiefs' scrubs, the Chargers, the AFC's No. 6 seed, started slow in Cincinnati. They came out of halftime strong, though, outscoring the Bengals 20-0 and taking advantage of turnovers to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.Rivers finished the afternoon with just 128 yards and one touchdown pass, uncharacteristic numbers after a season in which he finished with 4,478 passing yards, fifth-most among all quarterbacks in the NFL. Still, his defense allowed just 10 points to Andy Dalton and the Bengals, who turned the Ball over four times on the afternoon.
The Chargers will come to Denver riding a five-game winning streak that includes victories over both the Chiefs and Broncos. They haven't lost since a 17-10 game against the Bengals on Dec. 1, and despite eking their way into the playoffs by virtue of a missed field goal (and referees not noticing an illegal formation), San Diego is looking more like a force with every game.
Before 2013, the Chargers had missed the playoffs in three straight seasons, a streak that prompted them to hire former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. In fact, before Sunday, San Diego hadn't won a postseason game since 2008, against Peyton Manning's Colts. Bad omen? Maybe. The matter is in the Broncos' hands, now, and they'll have a week to prepare to avenge their final loss of 2013.
In the other AFC playoff game next weekend, Andrew Luck's Colts will face off against Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England.Broncos vs. Chargers
Chargers regular-season record: 9-7
Wild-card result: San Diego defeated the Bengals in Cincinnati,27-10.
Chargers vs. Broncos this season: 1-1. Chargers lost to the Broncos in San Diego in November and beat them in Denver in December.
Chargers strength: Offense, offense, offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers had a resurgent year in 2013 after three down seasons, finishing with 4,478 passing yards, fifth-most of any quarterback in the NFL.
Weakness: The Chargers defense has at times been utterly absent, similarly to the Broncos'.
Key to Denver victory: Peyton Manning. When the Broncos lost to the Chargers last month, Manning had an ineffective night, and the Broncos scored fewer points (20) than they did in any other game in 2013. They can't have a repeat of that kind of performance, not with their defense as shorthanded as it is.