|NFL Preview: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos|
|Sunday, 07 October 2007 08:00|
Needing a Re-Charge
The Chargers try to snap a three-game slide Sunday when they visit the AFC West rival Broncos.
San Diego (1-3) gave up 24 straight points in last weekend's 30-16 loss to Kansas City, sending the team to its first three-game losing streak since 2003, when it was an NFL-worst 4-12. The Chargers led the NFL last year with franchise records of 492 points and 14 wins, but have been outscored 102-68 through four games after outscoring opponents 103-36 through the first four in 2006.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Denver -1.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 42 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on San Diego +1.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
San Diego's home fans took to chanting "MAR-TY! MAR-TY! MAR-TY!" in reference to coach Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired in February because of his icy relationship with general manager A.J. Smith. Norv Turner took over, but the team has struggled under its new coach, whose career record stands at 59-85-1.
"I understand the responsibilities of the job I have," Turner said. "I'm ultimately the one who's responsible. So it's my job to get the things done we're talking about. The inconsistencies, the problems we're having with turnovers, giving up plays."
Linebacker Shaun Phillips came to Turner's defense, saying that the players "take every snap. Norv ain't never had a chance to throw a fourth-down pass or cover somebody on fourth down in the NFL."
Reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, who set league records with 31 touchdowns and 186 points and won his first rushing title with a career-best 1,815 yards last season, rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against Kansas City. He was held to 16 rushing yards in the second half, however, and entered the game with just 130 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground, one receiving and one passing.
Tomlinson might have an easier time this week against a Denver defense that is allowing 181.0 rushing yards per game, second-worst in the league ahead of only Miami.
Philip Rivers, meanwhile, completed only 21 of 42 passes for 211 yards and no touchdowns, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once, leading to 17 points. He has committed nine turnovers - six interceptions and three fumbles - compared with five TD passes.
Denver owns the league's best passing defense with 114.5 yards allowed per game.
"Just way too many turnovers," Rivers said. "Again, I'm going to work to get that fixed. That's never been a problem that I've had and I don't expect it to continue to be one."
The Chargers are in last place in the AFC West, but fortunately for them, the other three teams in the division are 2-2.
"The positive side of this is that as bad as these three games have been, we sit here one game out of a big cluster in the division," Rivers told the Chargers' official Web site. "That's the bottom line. We can still be where we want to be. Every goal is still there to be achieved."
Still, San Diego always has a tough time on the road against the Broncos. The Chargers rallied from a 17-point deficit for a 35-27 victory in their last game in Denver on Nov. 19, but that win was their first one there since 2000.
Since 1971, the Chargers are 6-30 in Denver, and they haven't won consecutive games there since 1967-68, during the teams' AFL days.
The Broncos will be trying to avoid their third straight defeat after losses to Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
"We know what's at stake," Denver receiver Brandon Marshall said. "We definitely know we have to come out playing. We have to hit on all cylinders. Special teams, defense and offense. it's a group effort."
Denver got out to a 10-0 lead last weekend but fell 38-20 to the Colts. The Broncos piled up 160 yards rushing in the first half, the NFL's highest single-half total this season, but trailed 14-13 at the break after twice settling for field goals.
Denver has eight field goals this season and seven touchdowns. The Broncos are hoping to put up more points this week against a San Diego defense that's allowing 25.5 points per game, eighth-most in the league.
"It's a little frustrating," tight end Daniel Graham said. "In this league, you've got to put up seven. We can't settle for three in the red zone. It hurt us yesterday, not putting up seven."
Travis Henry rushed for 131 yards on 26 attempts and leads the league with 433 yards on the ground, but has just one rushing TD. He was injured during Sunday's game and had an MRI on his right knee and right ankle Monday.
His status won't be known until later in the week, and the Broncos are also waiting to see whether receiver Javon Walker, who was inactive against the Colts because of a knee injury, will be able to play. Walker scored nine touchdowns in his first season in Denver last year.
"We've got a quarterback (Jay Cutler) that's confident," Marshall said. "He's throwing the ball into two and three deep coverage. Just believing in us. Our running backs are running like maniacs. We've got receivers making big plays, when we get J. Walk back it's going to be even more crazy."
By: Staci Richards - theSpread.com - Email Us
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