San Diego Chargers
Last week: Bye. In Week 4, San Diego lost 38-28 at Pittsburgh.
Series vs. Broncos: Denver leads 53-44-1.
OFFENSE: The Chargers offense has undergone a huge transformation the past few years. Quarterback Philip Rivers is the centerpiece, because running back LaDainian Tomlinson has slowed down considerably. Tomlinson, who missed a couple games with an ankle injury, has 70 yards on 20 carries. He has never had less than 1,110 yards in a season, but that career low was last year. He turned 30 in June and appears to be past his prime. Making matters worse for San Diego’s run game is Darren Sproles’ struggles. The pint-sized running back is averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. However, he is a constant threat to break a big play. San Diego is now a passing team. Rivers is averaging 311.3 yards per game and has great receivers all around him. Vincent Jackson is becoming a great deep threat, tight end Antonio Gates is one of the best in the NFL, and others like Legedu Naanee, Chris Chambers and Malcom Floyd are capable. All of San Diego’s primary receivers are big, physical and fast.
DEFENSE: San Diego’s defense, once one of the best in the NFL, is struggling again this season. The Chargers are without injured Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams, and that has hurt. Opponents are rushing for 4.6 yards per carry against San Diego, which ranks 27th in the NFL in rush defense. San Diego ranks 12th against the pass, but doesn’t make many big plays with only six sacks and four interceptions. Old stalwarts like linebacker Shawne Merriman and cornerback Antonio Cromartie aren’t scaring teams anymore.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Chargers haven’t played well, but their special teams are among the best in the NFL. Mike Scifres might be the best punter in the NFL – he dominated a playoff win against Indianapolis last season. Nate Kaeding is a reliable kicker and Sproles is a big play threat on punt and kickoff returns. San Diego’s coverage teams have been solid.