Chargers, Broncos tussle for first place in AFC West
» Last meeting: The Broncos improved to 6-0 with a 34-23 win in Week 6.
» Streaks: San Diego has won five of the past seven, but trails the overall series, 54-44-1.
» Last week: The Chargers overcame 450 passing yards from Donovan McNabb to knock off the Eagles, 31-23. ... The Broncos lost QB Orton at halftime and fell apart in a 27-17 loss to the Redskins.
Mike Nolan's defensive adjustments: Nolan, Denver's defensive coordinator, was praised profusely during the team's 6-0 start, because the defense was among the league's best. A three-game skid has exposed the unit some, however, and now Nolan has his work cut out for him to restore the defense's confidence and get it to find its early season form.
LT's inspiration: Finding out his wife was pregnant prior to kickoff seemed to spark something in LaDainian Tomlinson last Sunday. Playing against a tough Eagles defense, Tomlinson had a season-high 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He was shut down by the Broncos when these teams met earlier this year, but his wife may have just given him the motivation he was missing in that earlier matchup.
Eddie Royal's return ability: The biggest factor in Denver's win earlier this year over San Diego was Royal's production in the kicking game. He brought back a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns and those two scores proved to be the difference. The Chargers cannot afford to let Royal have a similar performance in the rematch.
Did you know?
San Diego has won four straight on the road against the AFC West. ... Chargers LB Brandon Siler had his first career sack last week. ... Denver's Champ Bailey ranks first among cornerbacks with 44 interceptions since 1999.ESPN.com
- Denver quarterback Kyle Orton didn’t practice at all Thursday for the second straight day with an ankle injury. If he doesn’t practice Friday, he likely won’t play Sunday in a pivotal AFC West game against San Diego.
- Denver running back Correll Buckhalter (knee) did not practice Thursday after he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Denver receiver Brandon Marshall practiced Thursday. He was held out Wednesday with a neck injury.
- San Diego offensive linemen Jeromey Clary (ankle) and Nick Hardwick (ankle) were held out of practice Thursday for the second straight day. Tight end Antonio Gates (foot) and linebacker Shawne Merriman (foot) both practiced Thursday after being held out Wednesday.
- The Broncos, who are looking to snap a three-game losing streak, defeated San Diego 34-23 on Monday Night Football on Oct. 19. Facing a Chargers team that has won its last four games, Denver aims for its first season sweep of its series with San Diego since 2005.
- Sunday's game vs. San Diego marks the first time Denver has played a team 100 times in the regular season. The only team the Broncos have faced 100 times including playoffs is Oakland (98 reg. / 2 post.).
- WR has posted at least 100 receiving yards in each of his previous two games. He scored on TD catches of 75 and 40 yards in the first quarter last week at Washington, becoming only the 11th player in the NFL since 1940 to post two TD grabs of 40 yards in the opening quarter.
- RB leads all NFL rookies with 591 yards from scrimmage and 520 rushing yards, which represent the eighth-highest total by an NFL rookie through his team's first nine games since 2005.
- QB yds., 2-0) in the first half at Washington last week before missing the second half due to an injury. QB replaced him and saw his most extensive action since his last pro start (9/24/06 vs. Carolina) with Tampa Bay. registered a 134.7 passer rating (11-18, 193
- Coached by long-time NFL defensive coordinator , the Broncos are tied for second in the league in sacks (29) while ranking fourth in points per game allowed (16.8) and fifth in yards per play allowed (4.8).
- OLB/DE has an AFC-best 11 games with two sacks since entering the NFL in 2006. That total ties for the ninth most in league history through a player's first four NFL seasons.
- WR handles return duties for the Broncos in addition to his work at wide receiver. He is the only player in the NFL to post at least 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 1,300 return yards since his rookie year in 2008.
- ILB/FB 's five solo special-teams tackles in November (3 games) tie for the third-highest total in the NFL.
Well we need big games out of the own team, if we want to win we need to give 110%. I know Dawkins is pumped I just hope the rest of the team is. Also still looking for a big game out of Peyton Hillis, want to see him get some action.
Man another hard won, I really want Broncos to win but this game will be hard fought. I still think this game is the most important of the season, win this and a say a deep playoff run.
An elementary teacher starts a new job at a school in Denver and trying to make a good impression on her first day, explains to her class that she's a Bronco fan. She asks the class to raise their hands if they too are Bronco fans. Everyone in the class raises their hand except one little girl.
The teacher looks at the girl with surprise and says: "Mary, why didn't you raise your hand?"
"Because I'm not a Bronco fan," she replied.
The teacher, still shocked, asked : "Well, if you're not a Bronco fan, then who do you support?"
"I'm a Charger fan, and proud of it," Mary replied.
The teacher could not believe her ears. "Well Mary, will you explain why you are a Charger fan?"
"Because my mom and dad are from San Diego, and my mom is a Charger fan and my dad is a Charger fan, so I'm a Charger fan too!" "Well," said the teacher, in an obviously annoyed tone, "that's no reason for you to be a Charger fan. You don't have to be just like your parents all of the time. What if your mom was a prostitute and your dad was a drug addict and a car thief, what would you be then?"
Mary replied, "I'd be a Raiders fan."