Do you believe in the power of the bolo tie?
If you do, do you also believe in Phillip Rivers? Or do you just believe in Western wear?
In any case, Chargers’ QB Phillip Rivers and his bolo tie (and the San Diego Chargers) are headed east on Sunday to face off with the Denver Broncos. The winner will earn a spot in the AFC Championship game. And whether or not you believe in the powers of a braided leather necktie, I guarantee you believe in the power of Peyton Manning.
For the third time in two months, future Hall of Famer Manning, the Broncos’ star QB, will take on old man Rivers (okay, enough Rivers jokes now, I promise). And as unstoppable as Manning has been this season, the Chargers are the only team to beat Denver at home, holding them to just 20 points – their lowest amount all season.
Since I strongly believe this game will come straight down to the QBs, let me just highlight some important QB stats:
- Manning has nearly double the passing yards (62,052) and touchdowns (461) than Rivers.
- Rivers has a 4-3 record against Manning, with two of those losses coming last year while Manning joined the Broncos. Said differently, Rivers was 4-1 against Manning when he played for the Colts – including two consecutive AFC Divisional playoff wins.
- Manning set two NFL records this season: touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477).
- Manning has lost 11 of his 20 playoff games and is 1-4 in Divisional Playoff matches at home (unprecedented for a four-time NFL MVP).
Which leads me to the biggest career plague for both of these QBs: playoffs. Both are able to perform spectacularly in the regular season, rack up huge stats, but then completely blow it in the playoffs. Who could forget the Broncos’ heartbreaking, double overtime loss last year to the Baltimore Ravens? (Sorry, Broncos’ fans. You knew it was coming up at some point.)
Although Denver is the strong favorite going into Sunday’s game, you can’t help but think the pressure to not to repeat last year’s loss might turn into a gametime advantage for San Diego. And on top of that, this will be the first time these two teams will meet in a playoff situation, and San Diego has won 6 of their last 8 games in Denver.
But the Chargers did kind of, fall, into the playoffs. Barely beating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime (27-24) in late December, they just needed to defeat the, um, poor, Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. Which they did, 27-10. For a team that nearly missed the playoffs, the Chargers have much less pressure on them than Denver on Sunday. And I’m sure they’re more than willing to be the team that knocks off Manning and the highest scoring offense in the NFL.
And although the Chargers’ defense contained Manning better than most this season, it still won’t be easy for them to slow him and his “five-10” club (the five players who scored 10+ TDs apiece this season) down. Yes, Manning struggled in their last matchup, but he was without wide receiver Wes Welker – one of his favorite targets. But not this time. Welker is back in action, and Manning’s other two favorite wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas might be joining him, as well.
No doubt the Broncos will want to get the Chargers’ defense (#29 pass defense) on its’ heels fast on Sunday and make them play from behind. Look for the Broncos’ defense to make Rivers throw the ball as much as possible. Since they’re down their top pass-rushers (Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller), this move will be key for their less-than-stellar defense.
San Diego will want to do just what it did in both regular season games: control the clock. That “five-10” club is a tough offense to stop, and it seems like only the Chargers really know how to do it this season.
While this matchup isn’t quite as exciting as others this weekend (see: Kaepernick vs. Newton), it’ll be fun to watch two of the NFL’s best QBs square off for the third time this year. To see if Manning can pull off the win and silence the critics. Lord knows this would be the season he’d do it. Maybe it’ll be the lucky number three he needs.
Tune into CBS this Sunday, 1:40pm PST/4:40pm EST, to watch two fiercely-competitive teams battle it out at the fiercely-intimidating Sports Authority Field at Mile High.