With a win against the Chargers on Monday Night Football, Denver can tie them atop the division at 3-3 while tilting both the head-to-head and divisional record in their favor.
On the other hand, a San Diego victory extends its first-place cushion to two games as both teams head into their bye week. The Chargers are aware of what’s at stake.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than this on Monday night,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said in a conference call on Thursday. “We’ve got a chance to play for a two-game lead at the bye, after six games. There’s still a lot of ball left after this, but obviously this is a huge game for both teams. From Denver’s standpoint, it would get us tied if they won the game. It’s obviously a huge game in the division, and I’m looking forward to it.”
If recent history is any indication, the Monday night showdown could be a battle to the very end. The teams’ last three contests have all been decided by five points or less. Most recently, the Broncos went to Qualcomm Stadium and left with a 16-13 overtime victory.
“We know what these division games are,” Rivers said. “They’re going to be four-quarter games down to the wire. It’s early in the year. Huge division matchup – fighting for first place. Obviously it’ll only be at the six-game mark, but it’s certainly important.”
In preparing for the game, both Rivers and Head Coach Norv Turner gave high praise to Broncos linebacker Von Miller, and said that containing him will be crucial for the offense.
In last week’s game, Miller filled up the stat sheet against New England, recording his second two-sack performance of the season and making his presence felt in several other areas, as well.
“He’s just an outstanding player,” Turner said. “We all know he’s a great pass rusher and he’s got really outstanding pass-rush moves. He’s playing linebacker and he’s a complete player there. He’s doing a good job in terms of the things you have to do as an outside linebacker, so you just have to account for him. That’s, to me, the thing you do when you look at good teams.”
Last year, Miller sacked Rivers in both games against the Chargers, and also racked up 12 tackles and a pass deflection. The San Diego quarterback remembers how good Miller was last year and knows that he’ll be just as much a problem for the offense this year.
“He’s really picked up where he left off (last year),” Rivers said. “It’s a different defense, but they’re using him in a lot of the same ways. He’s an explosive player. He’s one of the guys that jump off the film.”
Turner added that Miller is one of “a number of guys that create matchup problems” on the Broncos, as both he and his quarterback look to add to their division lead.
“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” Rivers said. “Monday Night Football is really all you could ask for here in Week 6 in the season.”