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MNF: Broncos vs. Chargers

Tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup features two teams looking to assert themselves as top dog in the AFC West. A win for San Diego would give it a nice two-game cushion, while a win for Denver would mean a tie between the two clubs atop the division standings. It’s still early in the season, but as always in the NFL, there’s a lot at stake in this meeting of division rivals.

“Obviously, division opponents are very critical,” Broncos head coach John Fox said via ESPN.com. “We’ll remain focused. Our guys will remain positive, despite all the noise on the outside. We have another opportunity, is all I can say, against a division team.”

If Denver can hold onto the ball, look for Manning to have a good game tonight

The Broncos (2-3) haven’t gotten off to the start that they envisioned with their new savior at quarterback, Peyton Manning, but the blame cannot completely be put on his shoulder pads. Manning has actually played quite well, at least from a statistical standpoint. He is completing 66% of his passes and has thrown for 1499 yards and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

With a decent defense and a middle-of-the-league running game, the real problem for Denver this season has been turnovers. Despite Manning only throwing three picks, the Broncos have coughed the ball up 10 times in five games and has only taken the ball away four times, leading to a turnover margin of -6.

“The problem has been getting the ball back to our offense,” Fox said. “We have to do a better job. It’s something I can promise you will get better, and it will get addressed. In time, hopefully, we get it.”

San Diego hasn’t protected the ball exceptionally well either with eight giveaways on the season, including five Philip Rivers INTS, but it has been able to create 10 turnovers on defense and has a respectable +2 margin entering this week’s matchup.

Will Rivers continue his success against Denver tonight?

The Chargers and Rivers have also had a good degree of success against Denver in recent years. San Diego has won four of the last five meeting between the teams and Rivers is 9-3 as a starter against the Broncos in his career. In fact, he has thrown 20 TDs against the Broncos, which is the most he has tossed against any team in the NFL.

Both teams were on the losing end of things last week; Denver lost to New England and San Diego blew a 10-point lead against the previously winless Saints. That will certainly make this week’s game even more heated, as both teams will come in hungry, in desperate need of a mid-season victory.

There’s no doubt that this close of a matchup (San Diego is a one-point favorite in the spread) makes it tough to bet. It should be a very close game, but most of the time in these scenarios; it’s pretty safe to take the home team. And when you consider Rivers’ track record against Denver and the fact that San Diego will likely win the turnover battle, it should make things easier. Look for Manning to have a solid game against a susceptible pass defense, but to come up just short on the scoreboard as the Chargers get the win.

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